News Bite: When We Need It Most

Celebrate World Refugee Day In Burque

Adam Wood
4 min read
When We Need It Most
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It is agonizingly ironic that the excitement which should deservedly surround World Refugee Day has been buried in the tempest of a harrowing week that positioned the United States as an antagonist—or, at the very least, not an ally—in the global conversation about human rights.

A legion of heartbreaking images brought to light the excruciating damage inflicted on some 2,000 children and their families by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. Even families seeking asylum in a desperate escape from the pervasive violence rampaging across Central American countries are being punished with separation, criminal prosecution and, eventually, deportation.

The hastily-signed executive order signed by President Trump yesterday has only triggered more criticism and confusion, with its vague terminology offering little clarification towards actual policy or pragmatic strategies that could suitably address a mounting refugee crisis or offer appropriate accommodations to families detained at the border.

This week also saw the United States withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council—a move that Trump threatened regularly but only came to fruition a day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights categorically condemned the recent immigration policy as an “unconscionable” instance of “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

These recent decisions betray an administrative willingness to neglect and ultimately deny any of the responsibility that accompanies a nation’s status as a global superpower—and effectively any shared responsibility for humanity’s well-being entirely.

This callousness stands in stark, depressing contrast to ongoing global conversation about human rights.

A sardonic twist of timing paralleled Wednesday’s withdrawal against a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Gandhi, who challenged all to join together in supporting refugees—and the policies which embrace them—as friends and equals, worthy of dignity and care.

With a record-high 68.5 million people forcibly displaced from their homes in 2017, the worldwide refugee crisis is not something we can afford to ignore or isolate ourselves from. In his charge to show “humanity in action,” Gandhi potently reminded the entire world that it is a crisis that can only be resolved through compassion, cooperation and coalition.

This Saturday, June 23, you can do your part to welcome, support and celebrate the local refugee community here in Albuquerque by attending the
World Refugee Day festivities from 4:30 to 7:30pm at Highland High School (4700 Coal Ave. SW).

The first hour of the celebration will feature a Citizenship Ceremony, which will be followed by two hours of dancing, music, food and activities designed to promote cultural exchange and understanding. This is a rare opportunity to celebrate and commemorate the perseverance of these brave individuals and families, and to show your support and love in a real and tangible way.

With a dangerous and heartless precedent being set by those who most publicly represent our country, it is important to prove—and perhaps even remind ourselves—that we as a people are not defined by our country’s policies.

In the words of Barack Obama (or, at the very least, the representative responsible for his Facebook posts), we are defined and united by our shared belief that “all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve the chance to become something better.”

A crucial part of that is realizing that every one of us has something to give and something to teach—and that each of us has something to learn.

World Refugee Day offers us a fantastic opportunity to become better by learning about, sharing in and celebrating one another in all our differences and similarities. In doing so, we become stronger, more unified—more human.
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