Welcome to our Refugee x Climate Panel: Discover the highlights looking at refugees, migration, policy and the climate crisis.
Transcript for Refugee x Climate Change Panel
Mattie O’Callaghan (Louder Than The Storm)
Aimee, I was wondering if you had anything to say about creativity and creating that personal, emotional connection with refugees on the ground, rather than just viewing them as statistics or facts.
Aimee Lister (Louder Than The Storm)
That’s exactly the point! Last week we did an Instagram live with ‘Migrateful’ which talked about an empowering initiative where they get migrants living in the UK to share videos of themselves cooking dishes from their countries of origin. Their work is therefore very empowering because it humanizes the refugee crisis because when you seen headlines about the ‘refugee crisis’ it dehumanizes the individuals and the center of it; they are portrayed as a mass group of people who you are unable to have a connection with.
It’s vital that we remember that each and every one of those refugees is exactly like one of us: human. This is what we are trying to do at Louder than the Storm, trying to foster a connection with the natural world, and I think it’s also possible to do that in the context of the refugee crisis as SolidariTee has. For instance, their most recent designs featured the work of a Sudanese artist, showcasing her experiences and talent.
It’s vital that we remember that each and every one of those refugees is exactly like one of us: human.
Alexa Netty (SolidariTee)
Yes! We also had work from a refugee from Afghanistan, a calligrapher currently living in the Moria camp, and designs from a Sudanese artist. It is interesting what you have said about humanizing the refugee crisis and I think it’s also worth remembering that a refugee neither needs to be the perfect, wonderful citizen or a villain. Instead, they can just be really normal people who sometimes lose their patience, who might have special talents - or might not - but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t deserving of protection!
I think it’s also worth remembering that a refugee neither needs to be the perfect, wonderful citizen or a villain
Josh Hallam (Help Refugees)
I had an interesting conversation on a local online message board which included a discussion about the recent deportation of a local resident. Many of messages spoke up against the deportation, saying how this individual had been a member of the local community for years and had worked as a hospital cleaner. There was even a petition. One message read: “We didn’t want to get rid of people like him; we wanted to get rid of the ‘illegals’.” Of course the point is that it is the home office that is making this person ‘illegal.’ I’m assuming that the author of this message didn’t consider themself to be a racist and said that they didn’t want people “like him to go” but without realizing that this is exactly what was happening.
For me, it is quite strange how some people can draw cognitive dissonance there, or a line, without recognizing the precize consequences of what they are advocating for. I think this argument around ‘the illegals’ is also where this debate about ‘utility’ can sometimes lead.
Dina Ionesco (International Organization for Migrants)
Working with governments, I know that policymakers are people and individuals. I never forget this because we have a tendency to dismiss their capacity to connect to others emotionally. Some are definitely less connected than others but then it is my job to get these people to change their minds and recognize these refugees on a personal, human level. As individuals we can campaign, communicate and gather evidence in order to bring the reality of the refugee crisis to other people but we should avoid victimizing these refugees.
From everyone I have worked with, they have said that they don’t necessarily want to move, to become refugees - they want to fight against climate change. Therefore, it is something that I really believe in, working with refugees, with charities, with policymakers, with diasporas, for climate action.
From everyone I have worked with, they have said that they don’t necessarily want to move, to become refugees - they want to fight against climate change