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Poles continue their hostility towards refugees

World Refugee Day


If statistics are to be believed, then some bad news from Poland again (bad news from my perspective). The recent study by CBOS (Poland’s National Statistics Company) suggests that 61% of Poles believe that the country should not allow refugees to enter its territory. What is even more interesting and sadder is that the if you are religious, this percentage goes even higher. Atheists are more likely to be ‘friendlier’ to understand the needs of the refugees and help them, but still only 50% of people who are less religious do not want to see refugees coming to Poland. 

The results of the survey are not a surprise for me, but I still feel devastated by my countrymen. I feel sad that we can not and do not want to distinguish between victims of wars and persecutions and migrants and are readily happy to assume that refugees and asylum seekers are responsible for security threats. 

Responsible acceptance and integration of refugees is a challenge, and difficult, but an overwhelming hysteria and lack of compassion of an ordinary Polish person to people who need help disgusts me. Subconsciously, I keep on hoping that things will get better, but each time I read news from Poland, things just appear to be worse. 

The only consolation that I am able to find at this moment is that I have decided to move out of the country permanently. Our stand, as the society, on refugees (read: lack of basic human solidarity with those who need it) does not allow me to be associated with Poland - however painful it may be at times. And no… no argument (related to security, or losing the cultural identity) that has been formulated so far managed to change my opinion so far. I understand that we worry about safety, but I fail recognising how punishing those who are already punished would make us safer and better people at the end. I just really do not get it.

A trip to Jakarta and news from Bangkok

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It is always good to set off and travel. This time, I travelled to Indonesia - to the country’s capital Jakarta. I occasionally visit the country, so it is not entirely a new experience to visit the place. I like Indonesia a lot though, so I was very happy to return to the city. 

The main reason of the visit was to learn about urban refugees in Indonesia. Like in many countries of the region, Indonesia is home to many people who needed to flee their own countries to seek safety from wars or various persecutions in their homelands. UNHCR estimates that there are around 15,000 refugees or asylum seekers in Indonesia. Considering the size of the country and its large population, the number is actually quite small - but then again these 15,000 people have substantial humanitarian needs and are desperate for protection and some attention of the worlds. Most refugees are from Afghanistan (Hazara people). There are also many who came here from Myanmar (Rohingya) and Somalia. Generally all of the refugees would prefer to get resettled to Australia, Canada, US or one of the EU countries, but these hopes are not likely to materialise, given the pressures for resettlement of refugees from the Middle East countries. So people are here to stay, but Indonesia is not prepared to host them. The country does not have a sufficient legal framework, infrastructure, nor funds to be able to look after their refugees appropriately. Then encouragingly, the government is willing to change all of this, as it realises that it is responsible for its guests, and more importantly the population is generally quite open to the idea of hosting and helping those who have come there to seek safety (how refreshing in the world of today). 

So I went there and talked to colleagues from various UN agencies, the EU and the Government of Indonesia to decide how we could join forces to make a tangible difference for the refugees in the country. Lots and lots need to be done, but the willingness is there, so there is some hope. We just need to act fast, as people can not wait. They need help urgently. 

Here in Bangkok, things are good. Tahir keeps on studying for his Canadian high school diploma. It is just a beginning, so lots of energy and work in front of him, but this is really exciting to know that he has started. Yesterday, we worked on his English homework. Tahir tried understanding the meaning of ‘synonym’ and looked for synonymies for various English words. It certainly was fun!

I am preparing for a trip to Mongolia. I should be departing soon. Now getting ready with my paper work, and next week, I will be trying to fix my detailed schedule! So happy to be going there soon. 

Finally, I feel a bit more Portuguese! I managed to settle my first ever income tax in the country. Now, I feel that I started contributing to the society of the country that I am calling home!

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