As we commemorated World Refugee Day all around the Globe on June 20th, I was reflecting on what would make that day really and meaningfully celebratory. My answer is simple and unwavering. Going out of business. I work for the UN Refugee Agency, and as long as we are working with all of our 6600 employees around the world and two Nobel Peace prizes under our belt for what we do for refugees, our mission is far from being accomplished. Our work will be done when the World starts spending more on improving lives of people who inhabit the round rock we call home and less on metal and fire that kill these people and displaces them (the UN spends less than 100 billion yearly compared with around 3 trillion spent on arms by its member states). When will we as a group of enlightened human beings start having a common vision about our future, about having a fair playing ground for all, where no child is born on the run, in a refugee camp, without papers, without sustenance, without hope, with no chance of a future in sight, stillborn for all intents and purposes?
We will truly celebrate World Refugee Day when we can manage to care about those unfortunate destitute ‘others’ as much as we care about the person staring at us in the mirror as we prepare to start our day every morning. And yes, it has to be us who would be able to change things as we own a mirror, hanging on a wall. We often take that for granted. Care to guess how many millions of fellow humans don’t have the simple luxury of looking in the mirror on a solid wall every morning? I won’t even mention running water. You do the homework and find out how many millions don’t have clean drinking water while you waste yours as it runs freely while you brush your teeth.
What will you do about that? Do one thing. Visit http://www.unhcr.org. It feels good to get involved, if only by learning a bit more. I promise.