An Interview with Runa Khan, Founder & Executive Director of Friendship SPO
‘Nothing will happen if voices from the field aren’t put on a plateau’
Runa Khan, Founder & Executive Director of Friendship SPO talked to us ahead of this year’s STAND Student Festival about climate migration and Friendship’s work in empowering at-risk communities who face environmental and human rights issues.
She emphasised the impact that climate change is having on the people of Bangladesh, and the importance of bringing the voices of these climate-affected communities to the fore so that everyone might be inspired to take climate action.
To learn more about the amazing work that Friendship SPO carries out in Bangladesh, follow the links below.
To learn more about the STAND Student Festival, click here.
Trump implemented a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ in April, 2018. Since then his administration has taken a hard line on illegal border crossings, imprisoning many illegal immigrants. According to the Department of Homeland Security, around 2,000 children were separated from their parents in the month of April and May.
Almost all the media platforms were drenched with the opinion, comments and perspective of people all around the world based on the Zero Tolerance Policy. To learn more about the Irish perspective, I went to Dublin City University (DCU, Ireland) to see student reaction.
Did you know that June 20th is World Refugee Day? Have you ever wondered how you can help refugees?
An unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Out of these, 25.4 million are refugees. Since 2001, June 20th has been celebrated as World Refugee Day and commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees. It shows support and raises awareness of global responsibility for refugees. In response to the imminent World Refugee Day 2018, here are some things you can do, to support refugees locally.
Donations: this includes monetary and non-monetary donations to organisations working with refugees and is the easiest way to help refugees. See: RAMSI, the Homeless Period
Get involved with your local refugee solidarity group: if you can have spare time or skills to offer, volunteering is a more direct way of supporting refugees. See: RAMSI, MASI, Irish Refugee Council
Spread awareness: just as World Refugee Day seeks to raise awareness, you can do so as well. Consider attending refugee solidarity events and organising your own, holding information sessions, encouraging conversation with friends and family or challenging uninformed views.
The Right to Work campaign was launched on June 14th 2018 at Liberty Hall Dublin by the Movement of Asylum Seekers of Ireland (MASI). This movement is led by asylum seekers and demands the right to work for all asylum seekers. They are seeking access to the labour market without restrictions for those who are under the Direct Provision system. Currently, Ireland is one of two countries in the European Union with a complete ban on the right to work.
Asylum seekers are at present given a meagre allowance of €21.60 per week under Direct Provision, but are not allowed to seek employment in more than 60 work sectors including hospitality and construction. MASI urges the government to end Direct Provision, unfair deportation and forced removal. They also support the right to work and education of all asylum seekers. While the high number of personal accounts shared at the launch may have been disheartening, they are an important step on the road to equality. MASI simply asks for freedom, dignity and justice for all including the asylum seekers.
Who is an ‘Asylum Seeker’? “Asylum seekers are people seeking protection as refugees, who are waiting for the authorities to decide on their applications. They are legally entitled to stay in the state until their application for protection is decided. They also have a right to a fair hearing of that application and to an appeal if necessary.” – Irish Refugee Council
In the fourth installment in our human rights series, Lynn Rickard looks at the Refugee Crisis in Europe.
In 2015, over one million refugees travelled into the EU zone by sea, while 3,771 were either “dead or missing”, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Two years on, Amnesty International Report 2017/18 reported at least 3,119 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year. When they land in Europe, refugees suffer overcrowded and unsafe living conditions on Greek Islands. In December, around 13,000 asylum-seekers remained in limbo, stranded on the islands.
Aquarius This week, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that 629 Libyan migrants on a rescue ship Aqaurius in the Mediterranean were refused entry in both Malta and Italy. The decision comes after Italy’s recent elections, with the new deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini stating that his country’s ports would remain closed.
Malta and Italian Rescue authorities have sent food and water supplies to Aquarius. After waiting off the coast of Sicily since Saturday MSF say some of 629 onboard the rescue ship Aquarius will be accepted in Valencia, Spain. Since 2014, more than 600,000 refugees have arrived in Italy.
MSF Sea tweeted: “#MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”
Larger Problem According to the UNHCR, 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide while 55% of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution come from just three countries: Syria with 5.5 million displaced refugees, Afghanistan 2.5million and South Sudan 1.4 million. Currently the number of stateless people who are “denied basic human rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement” exceeds 10 million.
Despite growing opposition to migrants in the EU, the countries that host the most refugees are all outside Europe. They include Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia.
What is Ireland doing? The UNHCR Ireland statistics list the total number of resettled persons in Ireland since 2013 as 1,517. 2015 saw the number of refugees seeking Asylum in Ireland peak with 624 people. Ireland experienced a decrease by almost half in the following year as 325 refugees are recorded as resettling in Ireland and 54 persons this year so far.