Refugees are migrants who have been forces to flee their homes. They are like you and me who want a safe place to live, to be able to support their families, have access to education and to be healthy. South Africa hosts some 65,000 refugees and 250,000 asylum seekers. Many of them fled their countries with no idea where they are going, leaving their entire life behind. Many lost everything including loved ones and livelihoods and have had to start all over again in a new place. Each year, on the 20th of June, the world celebrates the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
Despite their struggles, many refugees in South Africa have managed to triumph over adversity and restart their lives. A bag of belongings is not only what refugees and migrants bring to South Africa, contrary to what is generally believed; most are contributing to the economy, paying taxes and even employing South Africans. A great number of them have skills like doctors, nurses and teachers and provide positive contributions to the community.
In times of crisis and high unemployment, it is difficult to address issues relating to migration, refugees and asylum seekers. These subjects are often portrayed negatively with refugees and migrants often becoming scapegoats for socio economic problems. However, it is undeniable that refugees and migrants can help diversify societies, enriching and invigorating them. Most of them bring economic dynamism, entrepreneurship, new ideas and create jobs.
Using the power of literature, misconceptions about refugees and migrants can be fairly readdressed; through telling their stories, and sharing their contributions to the eyes of the general public. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) invite all writers to tell a refugee/migrant story through a writing competition. It can be either fiction or non-fiction.
For more about this please visit I AM MIGRANT