As the world marks World Refugee Day on June 20, the spotlight once again is on those who have had to escape wars, violence, natural disasters, and other crisis situations for their safety or survival. These refugees, who have been uprooted from the comfort of their daily lives, demonstrate to us the values of courage, perseverance, and resilience, and through the simple act of building a new life with hope, they have shown us all how far the strength of the human spirit can go.
One of the simplest ways of honouring refugees on this momentous day - and any given day, is to portray them as human beings – just like you, me, and everyone around us. Recognizing our mutual humanity and acknowledging their full rights as human beings, instead of merely fulfilling their rights as refugees, will go a long way in making an impactful difference in their lives.
Refugees are human. And yet, the forcibly displaced are often perceived under a notion of ‘loss’ – as people who have lost not just their homes and families but even their identities. But, in our visit to refugee camps, we have seen firsthand how the artistic skills and creative passion of refugees continue to thrive and bring meaning and joy to their lives, and deeply enrich the global cultural landscape that we are all a part of.
As humanitarian organisations, we must recognize that refugees have significant other needs that exist even when vital support for quality education, healthcare, food, and shelter are met. Facilitating access to life-enriching art forms such as literature, theatre, arts, and cinema provides solace and hope, and helps anchor their lives amidst the upheavals of displacement. Enabling refugee voices to be heard in positive ways must remain central to all humanitarian projects and initiatives to truly reflect the shared humanity that connects each one of us.
This vision is enshrined in Sharjah’s humanitarian efforts, which, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), is reflected in our initiatives and programmes that play a pivotal role in our efforts in rebuilding refugee communities.
Despite all the uncertainties in their lives, the resilience and courage of refugees in the face of adversity, remain an inspiration to us all. Many refugees are now scientists, poets, artists, and writers; the way they perceive life and live it inspires and empowers us to create a more compassionate world.
A refugee is a person with dreams and goals, like any of us. As we mark World Refugee Day today, let us all work hand in hand to protect and enhance the capabilities of refugees to reap the infinite potential of their artistic skills and creative expressions which will both promote solidarity and enable nations to develop, prosper and flourish.
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