Asya Aldema, Coordinator of the Guidance Program for Asylum Seekers, writes:
On June 20th, 2021, we marked the World Refugee Day.
At the end of 2020, the number of displaced persons and refugees in the world was 82.4 million people.
in Israel, there are 28,000 asylum seekers. These are people who fled from wars, violence, persecution and violation of human rights. They have been living in uncertainty for over 10 years, while waiting for a response to their asylum applications.
For the past year and a half, I have been working in Lamerhav as a coordinator and counselor in the program for young asylum seekers from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia. I get to meet up close amazing people, who want to dream, live with dignity and develop as individuals.
I would like to share something truly joyful that has happened recently. One of the young adults that I work with, Louie, is a professional marathon runner. This year, he fulfilled the qualifying criteria, and flew to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as part of the UN Refugee Team. This team comprises of refugees from other countries in the world, and it allows statusless athletes to fulfill themselves and compete like the other athletes in the Olympics.
It’s an opportunity for them to stand together, raise their heads and be proud of being refugees.
I can attest, at least about the reality in Israel, that a refugee / asylum seeker is a concept that is unfortunately, associated with so many negative connotations, political struggles and hatred.
And suddenly, this team introduces something new, filled with solidarity and emotions, unapologetic.
I was really excited on 8.8.21 at 1:00a.m., when I watched Louie run the marathon in Tokyo.
“Behind each number, stands a man who was expelled from his home and has a story of displacement, dispossession and suffering. They deserve our attention and support, not only in humanitarian aid, but in finding solutions to their plight,” says the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and I share the exact same view.