Home Sweet Home
No matter where you go on holiday, your home is your sweetest place. But what can you do when there is no choice and you have to flee from your home, just to save your life, your family and start all over again?
The world stood up and took notice during World War 2 that refugees need a home and many went and settled in the United States of America. The next influx of a migration of that level has been with the war in Syria ongoing.
Africa has faced its share of problems and while there were no refugees initially we were colonized, so we really didn’t know what home meant that much. The village was our kingdom until the colonists came to tell us that borders, districts and so on have relevance and that we are different.
As the African countries gained their independence, very few enjoyed democracy and now very few enjoy lifelong presidents. Meanwhile civil wars have broken out, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Somalia. As a result for example Kenya hosts one of the largest refugee camps combined in the world with Dadaab and Kakuma and over 600,000 refugees. While Dadaab is in Garissa County, Kakuma is in Turkana County and recently the Kenyan Government has announced a move to shut them both down.
In school we were taught about rural-urban migration, but I wish they had stressed on refugees seeking asylum, just maybe the world would be a little different. You would assume that the country that you are born in will protect you till death do you part. However tribal clashes, power plays, corruption and religious differences have torn us apart. When you are born into a country, your loyalty should lie with it and to protect it against all evil. But what happens when your very own leaders are ripping and looting the country? You are caught in the crossfire and then your life takes precedent and you have to run.
A refugee is not a criminal by choice, but by circumstance. Just imagine if your entire livelihood was stolen from you by a bombshell and AK47s, what would you do? It is easy to talk peace, but almost impossible to practice it. When we have a domestic misunderstanding, observe your reaction and note that you would rather keep the argument going then call it off and surrender. Then imagine you are facing a gun and have to make a choice for yourself and family and maybe you will pick up a gun and retaliate too.
Unfortunately with the terrorist threats, a refugee seeking asylum for escaping from war is being blacklisted with others who are smuggling themselves illegally for better prospects in other countries. When a human being has lost his or her family and has to live on handouts and start all over again at the refugee camp, these are too many open wounds and they can take a very long time to heal. Closing these camps and not having a solid plan will only force them to turn into their wounds and seek solace in a negative way. They are not numbers, they are people and they need respect. While Turkey is facing challenges of receiving Syrian refugees almost everyday and debating on allowing them to work or not, Kenya is not so far away from this similar situation.
Empowering the refugees should be the way forward to give them an identity, status and citizenship. Let them choose what they want to do? It is their life and when they crossed the border into our country they are trusting us to the best. Kenya has hosted them and due to threats from Al Shabaab you may argue that our national security is important, but telling them to go, will not solve the problem. Let’s seek better terms for their lives, they are in our home and you don’t tell the guest to leave like that.