Twitter users voicing their outrage at the on-going refugee crisis have been receiving unexpected video messages in response: real-time personal replies from refugees themselves in camps in Lebanon and Kenya, urging them to #TakeAction.
A world first, the responses are part of Amnesty International’s I Welcome campaign to create support for a global solution to the urgent refugee crisis – a crisis it believes can be solved, but only if people and governments turn words into actions.
Every day this week, Amnesty International will monitor tens of thousands of public tweets from around the world talking about the refugee crisis.
Teams on the ground in refugee camps are working with the camps’ inhabitants and renowned photo agency Magnum to record and post individual video messages in response to the selected tweets.
Every real-time reply will highlight that each refugee is an ordinary person forced into an extraordinary situation. Residents of the camps that Amnesty International will be visiting live without basic amenities such as proper shelter, education, and health care.
The messages will thank the tweeter for their show of support from all over the world but remind them that outrage is not enough – calling on the tweeter to #TakeAction and sign a global petition hosted at http://amn.st/60028rT6K.
This petition will be presented to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, previously UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on 6 February, calling on the UN and governments around the world to act together to tackle the global refugee crisis.
The campaign launches just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would effectively prevent refugees from seeking resettlement in the USA, blocking people fleeing war and persecution from war-torn countries such as Syria from seeking safe haven in the country.
“Without action, the global refugee crisis, particularly the poor conditions faced by refugees, can only get worse. But it can be solved. It will take genuine leadership and political will.” said Osama Saeed Bhutta, Communications Director at Amnesty International.
“That’s why we’re calling on everyone to #TakeAction and help us pressure governments around the world to do the same. This is a global crisis that requires a global response.”
“The problem is not the number of refugees but that far too few nations are sharing responsibility for supporting refugees. And it is the wealthiest nations that do least.”
Some 56% of the world’s refugees are hosted in just 10 countries located next to countries in conflict who, between them, account for less than 2.5 per cent of world GDP. Only around 30 countries run some kind of refugee resettlement programme, and the number of places offered annually falls far short of the needs identified by the UN. The situation became much worse in the last week as President Trump’s executive order suspends the US Resettlement programme for 120 days and slashes the USA’s resettlement commitments, barring all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
In April last year, then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed that governments commit to taking 10 per cent of the world’s refugees annually. That would be 2.1 million human beings – just 0.03 per cent of the world population.