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“Concerted effort will help refugees to thrive”
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“Concerted effort will help refugees to thrive”

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image-31-150x150As refugee numbers swell amid ongoing conflicts, Nnadozie Onyekuru, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, now studying in the USA, envisions a model solution built on Commonwealth values.

At around a fortnight of World Humanitarian Day, one of my friends visited a refugee camp in my country. He later reflected on the wheel of fortune and the sober sight of previous breadwinners now queuing for handouts.

Across the world, the numbers of such people are increasing as conflicts of various sorts plague our civilization. In the flash of a decade, refugees have become a pressing priority for humanity’s biggest conversations. The answers to their plight have ranged from the best to the worst. This quandary presents a unique opportunity for the Commonwealth of Nations to raise a goodwill model for other international organizations to replicate.

I believe that we can step in to the rescue of some of the helpless ones. Although it would be almost impossible to help all, there is an urgent need for particular assistance to the most unsettling cases, especially those of trauma victims. Such people need not only handouts but also an atmosphere of serenity, healing, and exile from memories. It is in the light of this that I propose the establishment of a refugee village to host select individuals and families from various troubled spots in the Commonwealth. The proposed village should be named after a peace luminary like Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa, and should be equipped with facilities that would enable its villagers to “thrive, not just survive” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bXAkbCyjpo as advocated by Melissa Fleming.

Its site should be determined after a bidding process where interested hosts should be vetted on territorial stability, political support for the project, conscience protections, and hospitality credentials. Once the site is determined, an exploratory committee should be set up, comprising representatives of the Commonwealth Secretariat, local dignitaries and experts, humanitarian consultants, and ex-refugees.

Former refugees in the Commonwealth who have risen to social prominence include Immaculee Ilibagiza, Izzeldin Abuelaish, and Janet Museveni.  The proposed committee can benefit from speaking to them as well as evaluating the lessons of longstanding communities like Romero House and Corrymeela Center.

While the village is in construction, a search should be carried out for a Village Chief and a Commonwealth Refugee Ambassador. The former should be a professional in a field relevant to leading the daily operations of the village. The latter should be a humanitarian artist, renowned public intellectual, or retired political leader with enormous goodwill. The ambassador should be willing to reside in the village for two years and occasionally globetrot to participate in various fora on related issues, especially if they assist in meeting donors and raising awareness of the village’s work.

The ambassador should also host holiday camps at the village for young people in the Commonwealth to discuss and reflect on their common humanity, universal aspirations, peacebuilding and development, political solutions, inter-faith values, and civilian-military relations. As future leaders, such conversations would prod their foresight to take into account the issues related to justice, good governance, and global solidarity that would ultimately mitigate the chaos in the world.

Finally, the Commonwealth Secretariat should also consider setting up observer groups for refugee camps in her member states, just as she does for elections. It is noteworthy that some Nansen Refugee laureates like Katrine Camilleri and Alixandra Fazzina are citizens of Commonwealth nations. Our diverse community has the minds and hearts to assist us in accomplishing whatever noble tasks we might undertake for the human family.

photo credit: Refugees Welcome via photopin (license)
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About me:

I am a Nigerian student. I love books. I am young and enthusiastic with firm dreams that are only tempered by Christianity. I dream of a world where people, inspired by their common humanity, engage in a global wheel of ideas and do not use history as a tool for blame game but as a lesson for the future. In my spare time, I write stories, speeches and participate in activities that advance the respect of human dignity.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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