Sunday, May 20, 2007

Teaching refugees the language of adopted country

A sad reality, indeed, to know that some four million Iraqi refugees have yet to find a better place to migrate. And the question always boils down as to who caused these refugees to go astray? Isn't it the unrest and wars now going on in some countries in Africa and the Middle East? Most popular among them are the on-going chaos in Darfur, Iraq and Palestine, which already displaced millions of families and at most, killed tens of thousands more innocent people.

These refugees are the victims of politics and greed. While the politicians in the U.S. Congress are debating as to whether to cut funding for the soldiers or not; and the illegal immigration issues, between 30,000 to 50,000 Iraqi refugees are driven out of their homes for fear of being killed, a Los Angeles Times editorial said in today's issue.

Darfur, in south Sudan, is another place that was transformed from a lethargic to what is now a chaotic killing field caused by the in-fighting between the Janjaweed militias and the rival armed factions in the south. Quite a bad scenario for the world to witness because this war already killed countless of women and children. U.N. records showed that millions of Darfurians have now fled but their homes and remained stuck at the borders, awaiting relocation to a better place that could offer them safety and a new beginning. But even the intervention of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission could not be assured at this time, but for huge relief goods that are flowing to Darfur.

The United Nations is doing all it could to assist the millions of refugees around the world at this time by way of relocating them to a safe country where their families could begin a new life and be in peace. It is no wonder that the region that is most popular to these refugees is Scandinavia that constitute Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. But among them, Sweden is absorbing most of the shocks from this international migration. At the moment, it is reported that more than 3,000 Iraqis have found safe sanctuary in that country. Although, millions are still stranded somewhere in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and where else? The same case happened when the Shah of Iran was ousted from power and the exiled Ayatollah K. took over the throne. Consequently, countless Iranians who were on the list for persecution have fled to Scandinavia, most of them landing in Denmark.

Currently, these thousands of refugees are transplanted in a land where the language and food are strange. But to them, this is much better than having to battle it out with extreme fear in Iraq, where only those armed have the courage to roam around Baghdad.

Perhaps, what the United Nations should do at this time is to find out who among the refugees will be relocated to such country, and teach them the language and culture of that particular country in order to prepare them by the time they enter the adopted country of their destination. In short, if the refugees are going to Sweden, they must first learn the Swedish language while they are at the refugee camps. This happened many years ago when boatloads of Vietnamese refugees were accommodated in the Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Palawan during the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The Vietnamese refugees are taught English prior to their relocation to the United States, Australia and other countries. And it was successful.

Right now, many of the Iraqi refugees have complained that they have difficulty finding jobs in Scandinavia because of the language barrier. We are aware that this extra responsibility is expected to entail additional burden on the part of the U.N. but this humanitarian work is worth it because it will have tremendous impact on the lives of the immigrants themselves. Although, it is common knowledge that English is widely spoken in Scandinavia but these refugees do not know the language either but Arabic.

Where else in this world can you find a country that welcomes refugees with open arms, to the extent of even providing them US$10 a day for sustenance? However, the United States and the United Kingdom are scheduled to take in at least 7,000 and a thousand Iraqi refugees this year, respectively. But critics said this number isn't enough to decongest the traffic of refugees still stranded elsewhere. Most of them are suffering from various sickness due to the worsening sanitation at the camp sites.

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