No one chooses to be a refugee

By Maria Pia Negro

Catholic News Service

“Every minute eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.”

That is just one of the statistics about refugees that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees agency offers. What decisions would you make if you were on that situation?

Researching for a piece commemorating World Refugee Day, I stumbled upon a role-playing phone app where users face the dilemmas that confront refugees around the world. Each story and the choices related to it are based on real-life experiences of families torn apart by war or persecution.

I was shaking after using the app. These are the decisions that over 42 million of people (refugees and internally displaced) are forced to make.

Fleeing means risk being mugged, raped, arrested, and tortured or never seeing your family again. But staying can cost you your life. What would you do? There is almost no right answer.

Like the UNHCR website said, “For many refugees the choice is between the horrific or something worse.”

The app was part of this year’s campaign to show the choices refugees have to face and aims to fight intolerance against refugees. The U.N. refugee agency campaign, titled “Dilemmas,” also includes survivors’ profiles and messages from celebrities.

According to Refugees International, there are 42.5 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world. In all, 15.2 million people ended last year as refugees. Approximately 12 million stateless people are living in limbo without citizenship rights.

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5 Responses to No one chooses to be a refugee

  1. Duane Lamers says:

    Where is the discussion of why people must seek refuge in the first place? Where is the pressure that the UN itself might levy against governments whose policies result in people becoming refugees?
    There isn’t any.

    Whence is derived the notion that another country must admit refugees? Not from any moral code that can be defended. Sorry, there’s no app for that.

  2. rich faussette says:

    Of course, there are people who choose to be refugees. Immigrants who want to improve their lot claim refugee status. It happens all the time. Americans are threatened with mugging, rape and murder every day. They don’t seek refugee status. Where would they go? Many ‘refugees’ simply come for a better life. Abandon your focus on ‘refugees’ and face the larger problem of large scale population transfer destroying the social fabric of the West.
    Here is a cause worthy of the CNS.

    Rich Faussette

  3. Charlene Bader says:

    I’m sorry to read the negative comments, but they only reinforce the idea that United States citizens have a genuine disconnect from the reality of war, violence, famine, and corruption that most often drive immigration.

    We happen to be born in a country with great opportunity. And we can’t live our first world lives with the entitlement mentality that we don’t owe anyone anything.

    We owe a great debt to our first-generation ancestors who weighed their options, left everything, and took the risk to give their families a better life.

    We owe gratitude for our nation that provides opportunities of basic education, health, careers, infrastructure, defense, etc. Our standard of living is ridiculously high on an international scale, even at just our lowest income bracket.

    If I were born in Mexico instead of the U.S., and my family was endangered, hungry, or sick with a curable illness and insufficient healthcare, I would do anything necessary to care for them, even if it meant crossing an international border.

    “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God.” Leviticus 19:34

  4. Kelso says:

    Good for you Charlene. You are so right.

  5. Allan says:

    It’s naive to accept UN statistics about anything. This is the organization that touts population control, abortion and immoral birth control as the fix for just about anything.

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