In advance of International Migrants Day on 18 December, we want to share with you three stories of aid workers we’ve trained or worked with this year, who are responding to the needs of migrant populations around the globe.
By the end of 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced. That’s the highest number on record. But refugees and migrants are not merely statistics. They are mothers, children, fathers, sisters, ordinary people forced to leave their homes in extraordinary circumstances.
Those who are displaced are in dire need of humanitarian aid and protection. But as the number of refugees and migrants increases, the funding available for NGOs like RedR UK is becoming harder to obtain. We’ve delivered training for aid workers from Venezuela to Uganda, but we need to do much more.
You can support our work this festive season by donating. Money should not be a barrier from keeping families and communities together. Together, we can fight displacement. Click here to donate.
Diana attended our shelter training in response to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. Since 2014, the number of Venezuelans applying for refugee status has increased by 8,000%, resulting in nearly 6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide.
“I’ve worked with the Norwegian Council for Refugees since 2018, as part of the emergency response team assisting migrants from Venezuela. The training that I attended with RedR UK allowed me to acquire more tools and knowledge to carry out my work in places with diverse contexts and humanitarian complexities.
We work hard to provide humanitarian assistance for migrants, especially due to the recent crisis. We have done this using an approach that provides legal assistance, alternative education spaces for children and adolescents, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, temporary accommodation services, delivery of shelter kits for populations on the move and counselling and support focused on the protection of people.
I had the opportunity to support the development of a multi-service care space in Venezuela, focused mainly on WASH, that would allow the migrant population to access hygiene facilities but also additional services such as legal advice before crossing to the border into Colombia.
Being there, I understood that migration and human mobility is a response to oppression in the search for freedom and a better quality of life. It is an inalienable right that should be guaranteed to everyone. This inspired me to seek more approaches and mechanisms to alleviate the suffering of people on the move.”
Oryem John Speke
Oryem is a civil engineer and participated in our Humanitarian Skills for Engineers project in Uganda. There are around 1.5 million refugees in Uganda, many of whom have fled violence in neighbouring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda now hosts the largest refugee population in Africa, resulting in increased demand for humanitarian aid and assistance.
“The primary objective of humanitarian action is to save lives, provide safety and security and maintain human dignity. It is beneficial to combine these objectives with engineering expertise because most of the areas and settlements for refugees become urbanised, requiring engineering-based solutions to improve the standard of living. Most recently, for example, I used the knowledge gained from the RedR training to mobilise the people in my home village and constructed a well for drinking water.”
Noor was born in Afghanistan but was forced to leave with his family due to widespread conflict and violence. He studied engineering and returned to Afghanistan years later as an aid worker with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Noor previously worked for RedR UK and is acutely aware of the importance of humanitarian engineering and providing assistance for refugees.
“Drive and passion are so important in a humanitarian context; the sector demands that you’re a multi-tasker. You won’t only remain an engineer. You might sometimes become a supply officer or be conducting focus group discussions with communities. It’s an exceptionally demanding career, so if the desire and the passion to help is not there, if that empathy is not there, the workload will quickly become overwhelming.
It’s the humanitarian cause; the suffering of people you see, that will push you to do more and to work harder. It’s such an important field - you’re basically saving lives. Your day-to-day tasks have a direct impact on people who have already suffered a lot. They’ve lost their houses, their loved ones, they’ve gone through trauma and you’re there to help them.”
In 2019, Noor participated in a podcast with Engineering Matters, where he discussed his experience as a refugee as well as the importance of providing shelter in times of crisis. You can listen to the full podcast below.
International Migrants Day is an opportunity for us to collectively reflect on the challenges facing migrants all over the world. While many choose to migrate freely, millions are displaced every year as a result of violence, poverty, natural disasters, and other crises. You can help us fight displacement by donating this Christmas. Click here to donate.