Blog co-authored by Harriet Crowley (International Programmes Manager)
War, conflict, natural and climate-induced disasters, poverty and violence are forcing families to flee the countries they call home. From Myanmar to Mozambique, Syria to Sudan and many more countries across the globe, there are a staggering 25.4 million refugees worldwide with a further 3.1 million asylum seekers and a monumental 40 million men, women and children currently displaced within their own countries.
Families often have little choice but to flee with nothing except the clothes on their backs or a few bags of possessions and daily life itself becomes a struggle for survival. Refugee camps are overcrowded, vulnerable to the weather and no place for children to play, learn and grow into happy, healthy adults.
For families, concerns around the risk of disease, malnutrition and sexual violence are all too real. In addition, once refugees have found a place of safety, new social, cultural and economic barriers to employment, health and integration place yet more obstacles in the way for newly-arrived refugees and asylum-seekers.
Home from home: Supporting vulnerable refugees
Image: A Syrian refugee child in Jaber Al-Sarhan refugee camp, Jordan
Here at Islamic Relief, as part of our commitment to transforming and saving as many lives as possible, we’re working to support refugees across the globe, including right here in the UK. In Lebanon and Jordan, we’re supporting families affected by violence, war, and conflict.
In Jerash refugee camp in the north of Jordan, we’re supporting Palestinian families displaced from their homes in Gaza, providing food packs, educational kits and clothing vouchers to support children and their families. We’re also working with Syrian families affected by war who are now living in Jordan.
Islamic Relief is funding a bus which provides Syrian children with educational opportunities to develop critical life skills. In addition, we are also providing training to parents, teachers and community members on positive ways to support their children and to raise awareness about both child protection and children with disabilities.
As part of our commitment to childhood development, we’ve also created safe spaces for women and child refugees which offer critical psychosocial support in a protected environment. This enables children to play, socialise, learn and express themselves. With the trauma of war and displacement, such facilities and support are critical in offering children a place to heal, develop and nurture their futures.
At an Islamic Relief-funded safe space centre in Jordan
We also have programmes supporting refugees and internally-displaced people in a range of other countries including Yemen, Myanmar and Malawi.
Critical partnerships: Welcoming refugees in the UK
As a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the UK is obliged to offer a safe home to those who have a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
Many of those seeking asylum in the UK struggle to access legal services, find adequate social and emotional support and integrate into their local communities because they lack the right social, financial, legal and cultural support services. That’s why we’re working with a range of UK-based organisations including Refugee Action, the Coventry Refugee Centre, The British Refugee Council, and The Children’s Society to help refugees and asylum-seekers to access critical services and happily and securely build their new futures here on British soil.
Artwork at a former social services building now operating as a weekly canteen for refugee children through our partner The Children’s Society
In partnership with The British Refugee Council, we’re helping to provide critical advice and support so that refugees and asylum seekers can access welfare support, find accommodation and address ongoing health issues. In a new country with new procedures, a second language and a range of socio-economic barriers, these advice services are a crucial lifeline and that’s why we’re committed to provide support to as many refugee organisations as possible.
Sadly, many children have been trafficked into the UK. In 2018 alone, 2,121 children were referred to the UK Government’s Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit. With unaccompanied minors at particular risk of child sexual exploitation, forced labour and criminal activity such as begging, transporting drugs, cultivating cannabis, selling pirated DVDs and bag theft, access to adequate safeguarding and extra support services is crucial. That’s why we’re supporting The British Refugee Council’s project to support child victims of trafficking which removes trafficked children from immediate danger. Children are then provided with safe accommodation and care to prevent them from being re-found or returned to traffickers.
Alhamdulillah, here at Islamic Relief we’ve been saving and transforming lives across the globe since 1984. From Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and closer to home in Europe and the UK, we’re supporting vulnerable families in search of safety and security. These displaced communities and refugee families are in need of our support. With men, women, and children on the move risking their lives, left with nothing, and facing social and cultural barriers to re-settle, we all have a responsibility to do the best we can to help refugees and asylum-seekers find safety and security and to build safer, brighter and happier futures for themselves.