In my article “What You Need To Know About The Current Refugee Crisis“, I outlined the scale of the refugee crisis the world is currently facing. My purpose of describing the sheer magnitude of the crisis is not to depress us or deflate us. Rather, I felt it was critical to know the depth of the problem to ignite ourselves into action. Any caring person should have an impulse to help a refugee.
What I am listing below are a few straightforward ways to provide assistance to those refugees in a personal capacity.
1. Donate towards a refugee cause
The easiest way to assist refugees can be to donate towards those brave actors who do field work to assist the refugee problem. These donations can go a long way towards making up the shortfall in food and shelter that fleeing refugees are experiencing. Try and find a credible agency first that is on the ground before giving your donation. A few noteworthy ones are the UNHCR, Oxfam and Islamic Relief. Another great refugee cause is featured on Zilzar Life here.
2. Volunteer for refugees
Volunteering with a refugee agency is a terrific way of getting involved in the issue. It is often said that time can be worth more than money when it comes to service of others. Ways to volunteer include help in maintaining refugee housing, distributing supplies and getting the refugees families settled and organized. Volunteers also with a specific set of skills, such as doctors, writers and lawyers, can lend their wares towards this honorable cause. Depending on which region you live, the refugee population may be different (Syrians in the Middle East, Afghans in South Asia, Rohingya in Southeast Asia, etc.). Your local UNHCR center can be a great place to start.
3. Employ a refugee
The Malaysian government recently announced their decision to allow 3,000 Syrian refugees in a special asylum status. The Government will grant them permission to seek meaningful employment for a temporary period. The natural follow-up is to try and connect with a migrant family and look for different opportunities to find the bread earner a secure job and income in a new country.
These are solutions on an individual level. To try and achieve broader change, it is necessary to campaign for a change in policy that is more responsive to the needs of refugees and humane. You need to involve different stakeholders, such as the media, government, UN agencies and civil society actors. There are a few hardworking organizations, such as the United Refugee Green Council, who try and get their hands dirty on the bigger challenge of translating public concern into impactful policy.
Actors such as the URGC report on what happens on the ground to refugee communities that may miss the eyes of journalists and policymakers. Very often the day to day struggle of refugees are lost in the debate about how many to let in and where they should stay. Making these stories of personal hardship and tragedy heard is very important. We shouldn’t underestimate the significance of Western audiences seeing the photo of a 3-year old Syrian migrant washed on the shore in Turkey, and its effect on European political debate. Even on a bigger scale, we can make a difference.