Stories about UNHCR

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini: A father’s lament of the barbarity we call human beings

“My dear Marwan, I look at your profile, In the glow of this three-quarter moon, my boy, Your eyelashes like calligraphy, Closed in guileless sleep. I said to you, ‘Hold my hand. Nothing bad will happen’.” These are a few verses from the context of Sea Prayer, the fourth book by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is a well-known author of three books, including the international bestseller The Kite Runner, and is the Goodwill Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Sea Prayer is a 40-page book, or rather, a free verse poem beautifully complemented by Dan Williams’ illustrations. It can best be described as a ...

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For Mohammad, New Delhi is merely shelter, as war-torn Damascus will always be home

On a December evening, with the daylight fading fast, a thick layer of smog, a common Delhi phenomenon, envelopes the city. People – the ordinary on foot or in rickshaws, the affluent in cars – go about their lives in the Sarai Jullena area of the national capital. Raucous horns of vehicles of all sizes and types rend the air. Two Septuagenarian Arabs sit across the table in a restaurant, identifying itself as Syrian, right opposite the Escorts Hospital that spreads across several acres of land. They converse in Arabic and order food without even glancing at the green-coloured menu, cluttered with a ...

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Can Muhammad Masood Khan change anything for Azad Jammu & Kashmir?

This summer’s protests in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) have been the most sustained, violent and aggressive since 2010. They have magnified the urgency with which both India and Pakistan need to resolve this issue once and for all before Kashmir becomes nothing more than a metonym for mass graveyard. It is imperative that a solution be found. Hopefully, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK)’s recently elected president has the answer. On August 6, 2016 Muhammad Masood Khan secured 42 votes defeating Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Chaudhry Latif Akbar who only managed to take six votes. The 23rd President hails from the AJK’s Rawlakot area. He succeeds Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan. There ...

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Burma’s democracy is on a military leash

The refugee crisis isn’t new and as long as there are wars, insurgencies, ethnic cleansing in the name of religion, cast or creed, this will surely not end anytime soon. The world has been watching millions of refugees pouring in from Syria for shelter. There have been mass coverage and debates in the media regarding the influx of refugees on European soil. Some politicians are giving speeches on how the refugees can be a threat and a burden. It is true that while some countries opened their doors, there were some hesitant in letting any refugees in, and yes, there ...

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Pakistan’s children are unsheltered, uneducated and uncared for

The Pakistani state treats its children with criminal neglect despite many laws and policies to protect them. The Constitution guarantees children between the ages of five and 16 the right to compulsory education; yet over six million children are out of school, and others in government and private schools receive a compromised education with little practical relevance to their lives. Pakistani labour laws, although ambivalent on what constitutes juvenility, are consistent on the fact that children should not work in hazardous occupations or long hours or at all if they are under the age of 12. Yet, children work long hours and in ...

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Chitral earthquake relief: Aid may be expensive but lives are priceless

Floods in Chitral became the reason for the first introduction of our team at Elaj Trust and this beautiful valley. We are in the area again, this time due to earthquake relief. Nature has not been kind, government aid has not been effective. But the people are resilient. Victims who are still looking for compensation announced at the time of floods have not lost faith. Sorlaspur village, at 10,000 feet above sea level, is the last stop before Shandur, home of the world’s highest polo ground. Nearly 70 houses are completely destroyed here and nearly 350 in the surrounding area. In ...

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Pakistan, not a home for the children of war?

Having worked in newsrooms for nearly three years, I find it increasingly difficult to ignore a certain self-congratulatory attitude among Pakistani journalists. Every now and then, a chief justice takes notice of a rape story and our inboxes are flooded with emails of colleagues congratulating the hard working reporter who broke the story. Once, we even did a feature on how our story helped a rape victim get justice. It was so smug, it set off a round of emails critiquing such editorial decisions and such a feature thankfully never appeared again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s crucial that good journalism be recognised, for ...

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This is what I saw in Bannu

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Bannu district, where the majority of the 500,000 plus Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), primarily from Mir Ali and Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency, have moved to escape the military operation called Zarb-e-Azb (apparently) against the terrorists who continue to threaten the people of Pakistan. This is not the first displaced population I have seen or engaged with close up, but the feeling of being overwhelmed never fails to leave. As one enters the garrison town of Bannu, visibly under the control of and closely monitored by the military, roadblocks line all entrances of the town ...

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Disaster victims are boring, lets cover Bollywood instead

Did you know that the estimated number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is around one million according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)? Did you know that another 1.5 million were affected by floods this year according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)? There are 1.2 million people in Pakistan urgently in need for winter items this season. I am quite sure that most people are unaware of these statistics. This is because the content on TV channels is driven by sensationalism which is essential to win the ratings race. Hence, we only ...

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Asylum seekers: Why should Australia shoulder our burden?

Australia has recently come under fire for its new policy regarding asylum seekers attempting to enter the country without a visa. According to their prime minister, this policy is an attempt to ‘curtail the record number of people attempting the dangerous boat journey to claim asylum’. From now on, people arriving on refugee boats at Christmas Island will not be allowed to disembark and begin the procedure for resettlement in Australia but instead will be sent on to Papua New Guinea; a third world country, improvished with completely different asylum laws. Many of these refugees arrive from countries such as Pakistan, ...

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