Today’s Solutions: June 29, 2022

The recent outbreak of war in Ukraine has forced many refugees to seek safety in countries throughout Europe. They are one part of a global diaspora of people escaping their homes due to war, discriminatory laws, and safety concerns. Some media outlets focus on the illegality of refugees in new countries, which can be dehumanizing for these individuals.

“When I came to this country and had a very difficult experience of being rejected, I found that the experience of not being believed was equally terrible and difficult to cope with as the war experience,” said Zrinka Bralo, a refugee from the Bosnian genocide and Chief Executive of Migrants Organise. “There was something so dehumanizing within that experience of somebody in a dark, gray bureaucratic room deciding that my application for protection is made up or not genuine, as they like to say.”

She believes improving public perception of migrants and refugees is crucial to ensure basic human rights for people who have survived hardship and also to prevent future genocides. “I feel this promise of ‘never again’ tends to be betrayed when it comes to refugees,” said Bralo. “Many governments and countries around the world will talk about the past in a positive light and somehow refugees are okay if they’re in history.”

She then goes on to draw a stark comparison of what happened to Jewish refugees throughout Europe, caused by centuries of fearmongering perpetrated by governments. In the wake of Days of Remembrance – an annual commemoration of the Holocaust in the U.S. – happening over this next week, this is especially important to remember and reflect upon.

How do we change this rhetoric?

Bralo believes that healing is the first step towards improving public perception of refugees, removing the rhetoric that there is danger in the “other,” to bridge gaps in communities which is extremely important for mental health and for working towards a future of togetherness.

World leaders recognizing the humanity of migrants could greatly sway public opinion. Too commonly, a dehumanizing media voice focuses on the economic or legal impact of migrants and refugees. Just making space for alternative experiences and stories in the media could change people’s perspectives and empower the 26.4 million refugees scattered across the globe.

To avoid repeating history, we all must join in this effort and insist on people’s humanity getting recognized. Bralo explains that organization is key. She makes the point that “we all admire people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but these are not heroes who spontaneously combusted into the act of heroism. These are people who spent their entire lives organizing for justice.”

Solutions News Source Print this article