Every year countries around the world recognise the plight of refugees and celebrate the contributions of diverse cultures by marking World Refugee Day on June 20. There are currently around 20 million refugees worldwide, half of which are under the age of 18, for more on the statistics check out The UN Refugee Agency. If you would like to know about the history of refugees in New Zealand, visit Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
If you would like to help refugees in New Zealand, consider assisting NZ Red Cross with refugee resettlement, or supporting ESOL courses with English Language Partners.
What is happening in Wellington?
Here is a selection of books and DVDs to learn more about refugee experiences:
Refuge New Zealand: a nation’s response to refugees and asylum seekers
“Unlike people who choose to migrate in search of new opportunities, refugees are compelled to leave their homeland. Typically, they are escaping war and persecution because of their ethnicity, their religion or their political beliefs. Since 1840, New Zealand has given refuge to thousands of people from Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Refuge New Zealand examines New Zealand’s response to refugees and asylum seekers in an historical context.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The quiet war on asylum
“Why would a country that has never had a boatload of asylum arrivals in modern history suddenly legislate for mass detention? Treading across the refugee camps of Burma and Thailand, to Australia’s detention centres and back to New Zealand, Tracey Barnett looks hard at this controversial new policy. She speaks to asylum seekers, refugees, NGO workers and migrants – people on the move and on the ground. Their lives and stories reveal a reality more complex than the political rhetoric, and one that questions how fair and ethical New Zealand really is on the world stage today.” (Syndetics summary)
City of thorns: nine lives in the world’s largest refugee camp
“To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Writing for Raksmey: A Story of Cambodia (Investigating Power Series)
“Writing for Raksmey tells of the lives of six families who fled the aftermath of the Cambodian killing fields, were held in a crowded refugee camp at the border of their country, and then sent back to a nation still at war. The past is not spoken about but the struggles are not over and the sons and daughters of those who once were refugees sense mystery in their legacy and know it is important to them. Joan Healy lived and worked with these refugees for many years. The saga of this quarter century is witness to both a determination to survive and human goodness that was never quenched.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis
“Europe is facing a wave of migration unmatched since the end of World War II – and no one has reported on this crisis in more depth or breadth than the Guardian ‘s migration correspondent, Patrick Kingsley. Throughout 2015, Kingsley travelled to 17 countries along the migrant trail, meeting hundreds of refugees making epic odysseys across deserts, seas and mountains to reach the holy grail of Europe. This is Kingsley’s unparalleled account of who these voyagers are. It’s about why they keep coming, and how they do it. It’s about the smugglers who help them on their way, and the coastguards who rescue them at the other end. The volunteers that feed them, the hoteliers that house them, and the border guards trying to keep them out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The lightless sky: an Afghan refugee boy’s journey of escape to a new life in Britain
“The boy who fled Afghanistan and endured an terrifying journey at the hands of human traffickers across Europe is now a young man intent on changing the world. His story is a deeply harrowing and incredibly inspiring tale of our times.” (Syndetics summary)
From victims to suspects: Muslim women since 9/11
“The so-called War on Terror, in its many incarnations, has always been a war with gender at its heart. Once regarded as helpless victims waiting to be rescued, Muslim women are now widely regarded by both Muslim and non-Muslim disciplinarians as a potential threat to be kept under control. How did this shift in attitudes come about? Shakira Hussein explores the lives of women negotiating the hazards of the post-9/11 terrain, from volatile Afghan refugee camps and Pakistani weddings to Australian suburbia and campaigns to ‘ban the burqa’. Her unique perspective on feminism, multiculturalism, race and religion is one that we urgently need.” (Syndetics summary)
We are here [electronic resource]
“Told through the bright and unflinching eyes of Cat Thao, a girl born in a refugee camp, We Are Here is a memoir that begins in 1975 with her family’s gripping exodus by foot out of post-war Vietnam – a dangerous journey, unimaginable to most, on which most perished. The escape of Cat Thao’s family from persecution traverses the horrific jungles of Khmer Rouge Cambodia and into the crowded refugee camps of Thailand. From which, finally, the Nguyens were allowed to board a Qantas plane to a freedom they wanted desperately. But the stark, contrasting suburban landscapes of Western Sydney, Australia were not the unalloyed blessing they’d imagined.” (Adapted from Borrowbox description)
Mary meets Mohammad [Documentary]
“Mary meets Mohammad is a film that follows the arrival of Tasmania’s first asylum seeker detention centre through the eyes of local knitting club member Mary. Mary is a staunchily Christian pensioner, who is not welcoming of the 400 male asylum seekers, who have come mostly from Afghanistan. Mary unexpectedly finds herself in regular contact with Mohammad, a 26 year old Muslim Afghan Hazara man, after her knitting club donates woolen hats to the men inside the detention centre. Mary sheds many of her prior beliefs as her relationship with Mohammad deepens and she is reminded of their common humanity” (Container).
The good lie [Movie]
“They were known simply as ‘The Lost Boys’. Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3,600 lost boys and girls to America” (Container).