Editor: Nur Izzatul Sofika bt Mohd Yusof
“Home is a nice shelter for us, but it differs for refugees.” It has been a nightmare for them to even step inside an inch.”
World Refugee Day has been commemorated on June 20th, 2022 in many countries, including Malaysia, which upholds this year’s theme, “Whoever. Wherever. Everyone has the right to seek safety” as a remembrance of their struggle towards life and to promote a sense of empathy and responsibility towards the communities.
This issue of refugees has been recognized in the “1951 Refugee Convention”, which was held after World War II (The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Its 1967 Protocol, 2011). The celebration was established in 2001 as part of the 50-year commemoration of the passing of the convention, which came out with numerous rights listed according to the terms and conditions. Thus, the date of June 20th every year has been chosen and centralized worldwide based on the previous celebration hosted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in several countries. Therefore, this day serves to draw attention to the plight of refugees around the world.
Home is a nice shelter for us, but it differs for refugees. It has been a nightmare for them to even step inside an inch. Refugees have escaped war, violence, conflict, or persecution in their origin country and have crossed an international border to seek safety in another country. Furthermore, their population has grown rapidly over the years and has reached an alarming level. There are ten largest existing refugee crises (27.1 million people) in 2022, with Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Rohingya topping the list. The most affected country recognized is Syria (25%), where the war broke out in 2011 and sent about 12 million people fleeing their homes at once (Refugee Statistics, 2022). 6.8 million of them have sought refuge, which ended up seeking safer places like Lebanon, Turkey, and others.
Even the fact that Malaysia is a member of the UN, the government decided not to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention for some solid reasons. Hence, Malaysia does not have any legislation governing the housing of refugees and others (Malaysian Law Does Not Recognise Refugees… AskLegal, 2019). However, driven by the recent celebration, Malaysia acknowledges and welcomes the presence of refugees that were mentioned in the world celebration by Malaysian Foreign Minister, Dato’ Sri Saifuddin Abdullah, through his recorded video sent to UNHCR, reaffirming Malaysia’s continued commitment to refugee protection.
LEARN FROM THE STRUGGLES
Leaving everything behind and starting in a new place with a new culture, language and nature necessitate a long-term adaptation. Not just that, the emergence of racism and discrimination has added to their struggle. Thus, it is not easy to process all of these difficulties at one time.
Hence, the existence of this celebration is to remember the refugees’ struggles, particularly those of the younger generations who have to understand what happened to them in a short period of time. Even if they are now in a safer place, a traumatic sense still emerges in them, which has an indirect impact on their mental and physical well-being.
Thus, rather than pointing fingers at anyone, the support from the communities, government, non-government, organizations, and others is needed to give them a fresh breath to improve their future, or else the numbers will continue to rise and lead to a massive impact on the world. Last but not least, in raising the success of awareness and betterment, GPM would like to call upon everyone, regardless of position, to work hand in hand to continuously resolve the crisis toward a better life and environment.
Refugee Statistics. (June 16, 2022). UNHCR. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/
Malaysian law does not recognize refugees… so who are these people? (2019). AskLegal. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://asklegal.my/p/unhcr-refugees-myanmar-rohingya-immigrant-asylum-seekers-Malaysia.
The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. (September 2011). UNHCR. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.unhcr.org/en-my/about-us/background/4ec262df9/1951-convention-relating-status-refugees-its-1967-protocol.html