Defying the odds, the success story of African refugees who became global icons

Novieku-Babatunde Adeola Jun 20, 2019 at 05:30pm

June 20, 2019 at 05:30 pm | Opinions & Features

Novieku-Babatunde Adeola

Novieku-Babatunde Adeola | Staff Writer

June 20, 2019 at 05:30 pm | Opinions & Features

A refugee as defined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.

As a result of this instability, imparting the virtues of hope demands huge emotional and financial investment. While it is increasingly difficult to disassociate the mind and personality from the tag of being a refugee, the good news is, some have succeeded in changing their narrative – the reason for the article. While for some others, mental fortitude and resilience are lacking.

According to the legendary war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, “It is amazing that the refugees stay sane. First the bombs, perhaps the ‘battle’ around them, their casualties, their naked helplessness; then the flight, leaving behind everything they have worked for all their lives; then the semi-starvation and ugly hardship of the camps or the slums; and as a final cruelty, the killing diseases which only strike at them.”

This sparks a genuine debate, perhaps refugees have the strongest minds the world has ever seen?

What are the latest refugee statistics?

According to UNHCR, the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. 

Syria and South Sudan have the largest number of the world’s refugees as a result of the war.

In 2016, the disastrous break-off of peace efforts in July in South Sudan contributed to an outflow of 737,400 people by the end of the year. That number has continued to rise during the first half of 2017.

Here are some of global icons who have been refugees but found their way out of this ugly menace.

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