It’s way past midnight already, as I’m contemplating how to start this discussion. This blog is supposed to be the reflection of the sunny side of my life, picturesque places, beautiful clothes and delicious food. However, other bloggers who have raised the topic, have made me realise that this blog has also given me a voice that can reacher further than the discussions in the privacy of my 4 walls. So I’m using this voice to talk about the refugee crisis.
The reasons why I’m trying to be careful with my words are plentiful. The refugee crisis is a sensitive issue, causing emotions that range from sympathy to anger. I see my friends supporting refugees that camp in front of the Regional Office For Health And Social Affairs in Berlin to seek asylum with food, water and other necessities, while news outlets report on the latest attacks on refugee shelters. I wonder whether I’ve spent enough time researching the topic. Wonder if I’m informed enough to give an opinion. I have to admit, I even wonder if I’m ‘allowed’ to say “refugees welcome”, considering my Vietnamese heritage. Though, seeing constant news of hundreds of thousands fleeing war zones, during a time hate spreads rapidly on social media with people complaining refugees will overtake their countries, I couldn’t stay silent.
My personal story is not comparable to the current situation, but gives insight into the faces of a dangerous ignorance. Whenever I picked my sister up from nursery school, we would have to pass this pub on our way home. Each time, the pub-goers would stop us to call us names, would be asked to leave the country as our family was presumably exploiting Germany and living off taxpayers’ money. Never would they have considered that my parents might have been invited to Germany during the Cold War for a scholarship and training programme, that they are currently diligently paying their taxes. It’s these kinds of people that raise their voices now against refugees as well. Without any interest to attain informed knowledge about the situation, turning a blind eye to their individual stories, they flood social media with their anti-refugee-propaganda. They reject any association with xenophobia and disguise such behaviour as patriotism, while it’s clearly visible (thanks Social Media) that some don’t even have sufficient command of their own language (yes, German is indeed a difficult language, especially for some racist Germans themselves). The problem clearly lies in their ignorance.
We must all understand that these refugees are people like we are. They had families, jobs, a life. We are lucky not to be in this kind of situation ourselves, but that is the very reason why we have to show understanding and solidarity. In comparison to the amount of refugees fleeing, only a minimal amount actually make it to Germany or even the UK.
How we, as individuals, can help (based on Mia from the blog heylilahey’s post in German)
- Be informed: Find the facts, ignore the propaganda.
- Speak up: Show your solidarity on social channels, share, tweet blog, giving no space to discrimination.
- Get active: Inform yourself about ways you can help. This obviously depends on different criteria, such as what is currently needed, your location, etc. Be careful about donating products as this could cause administrative costs and the need for certain products changes frequently.
Useful and interesting links:
- Asylum Trends 2014 - Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries UNHCR
- Refugee facts and figures British Red Cross
- 10 truths about Europe’s migrant crisis The Guardian
- Refugees welcome? How UK and Germany compare on migration The Guardian
- 5 practical ways you can help refugees trying to find safety in Europe The Independent
- Refugee crisis: what can you do to help? The Guardian
- Mia from heylilahey (German)
- Maddie from Dariadaria (German)
- Franzi from zukkermaedchen (German)
- Ricarda from cats & dogs (German)
Please join the discussion and feel free to leave informational links or tips on how to help!