Unite for Refugees United
Filed under: public health, social change | Tags: Bloggers United, conflict, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, refugees, war |
I was not about to miss the change to blog today as part of the Bloggers United effort to support refugees. When I learned about the theme for today this summer, I was excited to write. But since I have started working as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, this has taken on a newfound importance for me to raise awareness about the challenges that refugees face.
This cause is particularly personal after meeting some of the children that have been directly affected by the escalating crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Violence in recent weeks has escalated to an untenable level. While violence is an obvious contributor to the high mortality rates, the majority of deaths are caused by preventable and treatable diseases. Because the infrastructure in eastern Congo has been practically decimated, authorities cannot deliver much needed food and medical supplies to the people who need them.
The lucky ones who survive violence and disease can spend years in makeshift refugee camps in neighboring countries. Refugee resettlement is an action of last resort; less than 1 percent of identified refugees are relocated to other countries. The emotional impact of relocation from leaving one’s home under duress complicates adjustment to life in a new country. Resettlement agencies offer direct assistance for the first six months including job placement and housing. As one can imagine, six months is not truly enough time to adjust.
The youth that I work with encounter more difficulties because they have to learn English quickly, adjust to differences in the school system, and sometimes need remediation to be at the same level with their classmates. All of these challenges in addition to the stigma that refugees sometimes face when the public confuses refugees with immigrants. Not to say that discrimination is justified against immigrants; adjustment becomes more complicated as a result of ignorance.
Events like Bloggers United provide a great opportunity to help break through the ignorance. For information about refugees worldwide, check out the following resources.