Refugees Magazine Issue 107 (Refugee voices from exile) - In their own words
Refugees (107, I - 1997)
The plight of the world's refugees is debated endlessly, but displaced people themselves are rarely heard from. In this edition refugees talk directly about their experiences, fears and hopes for the future.
Refugees and asylum-seekers are on the television screens and in the newspapers virtually every day. But normally it is aid workers, government ministers and immigration officials or journalists who do the talking and explaining on behalf of the displaced. In this issue we give refugees themselves the chance to describe their journeys into exile and their hopes and fears for the future.
There are two common threads in their tales. The first is the agony of being uprooted from their homes. War and civil conflict gave most refugees little choice but to abandon virtually everything, often including close members of the family, in their flight toward a safe haven.
When the Soviet Union collapsed millions of people suddenly found they were not welcome in the land they had always called home and they were subsequently forced to go to their 'ethnic' motherland in another part of the old empire. Some paid a high price to smugglers but did not always arrive where they thought they were going.
All of these refugees were grateful to the countries which gave them sanctuary but in the current global debate on the future of refugee asylum it is often overlooked that most of these people, though not all, still want to return to their original homes once conditions permit.
The second common thread in these reports is hope, often glimpsed through today's despair. An Afghan teacher says his country will bloom again one day and "where a stream once flowed, water will run again" and a former El Salvadoran exile is now running for that country's congress.
Many of these refugees still have valid fears of persecution; for this reason some of their names have been changed.
Listen to the voices of these refugees. They are the voices of ordinary men and women, what happened to them could happen to anyone.
Source: Refugees Magazine Issue 107 (1997)