The Untold Journey of a Refugee
Stranded at sea with no hope. Passengers squeeze into cramped space trying to fit hundreds comfortably. Lost with no sense of direction, refugees look for a glance of free land. To reach freedom though refugees pay a price, that can be very unfair. During their journeys they will be physically challenged, placed in a storm of intense events. Refugees will face emotional issues such as losing loved ones and being stranded alone at sea. Using the last of their money, they will spend every last dollar just with the hope of reaching a new country. Upon arrival they are left with nothing to support their family and community. Refugees endure many sacrifices, and governments should give them the opportunity to prove they will be a positive addition to the new country.
Refugees encounter physical challenges on their journey to freedom. Rafts built for fifteen are lined up on the beach front with thousands eagerly waiting in warehouses to be chosen as the next victim of the sea. No one sits comfortably, no matter the price you pay; but that does not matter when you have to worry about drowning. A journey that can take days feels like years to these poor refugees, not knowing when they will reach their main destination.
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Sickness spreads like a wildfire as diseased refugees are picked off one by one, the only cure is making it on land. This is not even the worst they will go through, they have to worry about dangerous occurrences that can happen randomly. “Refugees are being kidnapped, held against their will, physically and sexually abused, and tortured by smugglers along key route points” (UNHCR). Refugees are being sold by the boatload to traffickers, where they are then turning children into child soldiers, and executing the innocent for their own entertainment.
Traffickers are turning normal human beings into animals and making them work under imprisonment. Not only being kidnapped and harmed against their will, refugees are having to travel in extremely harsh conditions. “Temperatures drop below freezing, heavy snow blocking transport. Refugees are dying because of the cold. Lack of food, water, blankets and proper winter attire is putting refugees in great danger” (Gidda). Majority of refugees are leaving from Syria which has very hot weather so when faced against freezing weather no one is prepared.
Hypothermia is killing them because they have nothing to keep warm with and the little supplies they can fit on the rafts is for food and water, leaving no room for other essentials. Refugees are traveling wrongly and should be transported by large cargo ships with enough essentials to keep them alive until they are in a new country. Having to sacrifice even one refugee on the journey is not acceptable. This crisis is already the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
Emotional hardships refugees have to go through will effect them for a lifetime. A refugee is a human being, nothing less; but they are being treated nowhere near like how they should be. Majority of refugees will travel by themselves with family already in their new country. This is very difficult because they are not 100% granted freedom. It all depends on if they can make it pass the border and have the correct paperwork.
For those who successfully complete the journey and are with their families, issues are never truly over. “Once a refugee or refugee family is finally able to settle down and start building a new life for themself many will face discrimination, daily racism, and xenophobia. Many refugees feel alone and isolated from the people around them because no one wants anything to do with them almost making them regret traveling to better land” (Amnesty International).
This is so unfair because they have been through so much to finally be able to start a new life, but the consequences never end. The face that the thought of rather being in your crime and war filled country sounds like a better place to settle down is horrible. When on water refugees are often spotted by large ships who are either patrolling their border or just crossing the ocean, during these confrontations refugees are tormented and treated with very little respect. A very popular editorial cartoon explains travel struggles for travelers.
“In this picture you see a extremely large ship with a gun on top and only one person at the end of it yelling down to a raft of hundreds of refugees packed in when it should only fit around 15 to travel safely. The person on the ship yells “where are you from” and all the refugees shout back up “earth” ( Simon Kneebone). Not a single person should have to explain that they are human, and this is why the refugee crisis is such a problem that needs to be fixed. The governments are not taking it seriously enough and innocent people are having to choose between death, hope, or discrimination.
The financial issues refugees have to deal with. Coming from very poor countries, the price refugees have to pay is insane. Families and individuals are having to work since childhood just to be able to afford to leave their home countries. But the traffickers do not give in to cheap prices, it is a complete pricey operation that takes place in order to leave. First refugees are on a waitlist for many years to be able to have a opportunity to leave.
Than they are to meet in very discreet locations where they are transported to massive warehouses on the coast. But these operations can not be taken place at any time during the day, wars are constantly being fought and it is extremely unsafe to be on the roads at various times of the day. The faster a refugee wants to leave, the larger the price they pay. “To get from Syria to Europe, you need at least $3000. Some people make it on less, but the more money you have equals way better safety” (Murdock). $3000 is the bare minimum refugees are paying to leave.
This price leaves them with the worst traveling conditions, if a refugee pays this price they will be traveling on the smallest raft available with hundreds of other random people. This is where diseases are passed and dangers of sinking occur. Some refugees will pay hundreds of thousands more and they are granted with heavy duty motor boats that have a small amount of passengers making the journey somewhat more comfortable. Soldiers and traffickers are very strict about who leaves the country and being caught can get that person in serious trouble.
“A young man on the bus turns out to be on a wanted list, so the soldiers grab him and march him off the bus. They turn to the driver: ask them how much they want to release him. The driver returns with a number: 2000 Syrian pounds. There is a whip-round, and everyone chips in some of their last savings. Hashem is now almost out of money. But the man’s life is saved” (Kingsley). Already having barely any money to support themselves, they now have to worry about saving other refugees lives. This is outrageous because refugees will now have no money when they arrive to their final destination leaving them homeless and in search of help, when citizens of this new country already dislike them.
Many people believe that refugees will overpopulate and ruin their country, however, refugees have proven to be very hard workers and strive to make their communities better. Every refugee is to be given to work and show what they are capable of doing to help the current country they are living in. Many refugees leave their homes in search of new work and rebuilding their lives so for citizens to refuse them or think any differently is discriminating and hateful.
Refugees want to be treated as if they have been living there their whole lives and that they are no different than any other person. “Refugees typically do not want to be treated as victims or charity cases. They want to start rebuilding their lives, become self-reliant again and give something back to society” (Legrain). A foreign person gifted a new opportunity at starting life again will be more than welcome to take on any task to be apart of their community and are usually the hardest workers out of anyone.
If a refugee has been traveling non stop and faced with extreme challenges for freedom, they deserve every little opportunity. Some citizens understand that they are in need of help and will even house refugee families and help them get on their feet so they can live happily. “In addition to speeding up refugees’ full participation in society, employment helps neutralize the claim that they are a burden. And when refugees become colleagues and friends, they no longer seem like a threat” (Legrain). Once you get to know a refugee you will finally understand they are completely normal and friendly.If you were wondering why It is because they are human beings!
Why accepting refugees will be beneficial for everyone who may be sceptical. Refugees are very hard working individuals who just want their rights which they should of had since the start. They are already having to earn them so it should be very fair that they get an opportunity to work and rebuild their lives right from the start. Money was very tight for them back in their home countries and the obvious reason that they took a treacherous journey is so that they could start with a clean slate in life.
Opposing countries are not opening their eyes to the possibilities that could just be handed to them, instead they are leaving refugees stranded in the streets broke and begging for money instead of earning it. It is cruel and unlawful and governments need to understand what they are really missing out on. “Accepting refugees is a win for the receiving country and the communities that host them. By providing them with the right to work, to health, and to education, refugees can start productive lives in their host countries” (Bahar).
There are so many smart individuals who have no chance to the right of schooling because of the country they live in or money situations so every refugee should be given the proper education, that is including children too. Also a lot of refugees will be injured while traveling so the right to proper health aid is very important too, having someone damaged is one less employee. Refugees are also very resourceful because they are good at their own unique jobs.
“Refugees could also play a fundamental role in fostering international trade and investment. Since they know the business environment quite well, they are able to mediate between business people in both countries who are willing to invest in local community and trade with local businesses” (Bahar). Any global trade work that is needed to be done can be handled by refugees, they know different languages and are from unique cultures so they can be a very good asset to their new governments.
Refugees are not animals, they are people. They are accused of something they are not and pictured as monsters, when in reality that is what we are. Everyone can make a change by donating to help get homeless refugees jobs and help them travel safely across the ocean to reach freedom and be united as a family.
Any help such as signing petitions or bringing awareness of the situation to the governments will help get these poor refugees to safety. There has to be no more worrying if they will make it out of the ocean alive or in traumatized states, not a single person deserves this. As you can see refugees encounter many hardships on their journeys to freedom, and this is why governments should give refugees equal opportunities to benefit their communities and families.
- United Nations. “Refugees and Migrants Face Heightened Risks While Trying to Reach Europe – UNHCR Report.” UNHCR, 27 Feb. 2017, www.unhcr.org/news/press/2017/2/58b458654/refugees-migrants-face-heightened-risks-trying-reach-europe-unhcr-report.html.
- Gidda, Mirren. “Come Hell or High Water: Refugees Risk Death Traveling through a Harrowing European Winter.” 2Nov. 2015.
- Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and Migrants.” Early Marriage and Harassment of Syrian Refugee Women and Girls in Jordan, www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/.
- Kneebone, Simon. “Where Are You from?” Where Are You from?, Simonkneebone, 2015.
- Murdock, Heather. “From Syria to Europe: The Price They Pay.” 24 Nov. 2015.
- Kingsley, Patrick. The New Odyssey: the Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis. Guardian Books, 2017.
- Legrain, Philippe. “How to Help Refugees Get Into Work Fast.” Oceans, News Deeply, 29 Nov. 2017, www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2017/09/19/how-to-help-refugees-get-into-work-fast.
- Bahar, Dany. “Why Accepting Refugees Is a Win-Win-Win Formula.” Brookings.edu, The Brookings Institution, 20 June 2018, www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2018/06/19/refugees-are-a-win-win-win-formula-for-economic-development/.