“Our responses to refugees must be grounded in our shared values of responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights.” – UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
Nearly 20 million people around the world are Refugees, meaning they have fled or are fleeing conflict or persecution. Life as a refugee can be difficult. Imagine being forced to flee your country in order to escape to safety. Maybe you have time to pack a bag, maybe not. You arrive in a safer area or country but your struggle may not end there. Discrimination, language barriers, and poverty are very real issues that you may face daily.
You are different and in a different land. We may not all relate to being a refugee but we can all understand what it feels like to be different, made to feel different and to be judged as a result of a difference.
Emerging Young leader Naomi Bugre has made it her mission to empower victims of this type of discrimination including refugees. Having had her own experiences with racial discrimination she brings that perspective into her work as an advisor to organizations, the government of Malta and politicians across Europe on issues including minority and human rights, and the rights of children and refugees.
The campaign ”Redefining Us,” which Naomi co-founded, reaches out to students, teachers and Maltese citizens on hate speech and the dangers of division within Maltese society. She is dedicated to using her personal story to empower and educate others. She is creating a platform for victims to share their stories in order to heal and so that they also feel less alone. Her campaign intends to bring attention to an issue that is not largely accepted as an issue.
It’s hard to find acknowledgement of racial or religious diversity researching Malta. On the other hand, the UN acknowledges the asylum that Malta has granted to refugees primarily from Northern Africa since 2010. It is seemingly hard to create awareness around an issue when your country doesn’t acknowledge the existence of diversity in the first place.
However there are other examples of countries which acknowledge the diversity among its citizens but still have issues dealing with wide acceptance. Emerging Young leader Noé Petitjean from Belgium founded Our Shared Difference (OSD), an intercultural and interfaith project gathering youth from different cultural backgrounds to address the challenges of refugee integration in Europe. He strongly believes that diversity is a true force for positive change.
OSD brings together young people from different cultural, religious and economic backgrounds to visit religious sites and learn about each other’s faiths. One of Noé’s sources of inspiration for the OSD project was the UNESCO conference “Reinventing Peace.” He has spread this vision by bringing teenagers to the European Parliament and showing them the important and powerful role diversity plays in Europe.
Refugees are defined and protected by international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk. Taking this into consideration, protection of refugees has many aspects. These include safety from being returned to danger, access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, and measures to ensure that their basic human rights are respected while they secure a longer-term solution.
In an effort to show world leaders that the international community stands with Refugees we at Legacy International recognize, along with the United Nations, the 17th Annual World Refugee Day on June 20th. Last year, the United Nations launched the #WithRefugees petition that asks governments to:
- Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
- Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
- Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.
As we work to ensure a more peaceful world let’s all take some time out on June 20th to stand #WithRefugees.
Please find out more ways to participate here:
To learn more about the United Nations and #WithRefugees please visit: