- This message is about Human beings, Democracy, UNHCR, Refugees, The Iraqis, Islam, Kurds, Human rights, Respect, Money, Donations, Angelina Jolie, Pavarotti, Giorgio Armani, Donors, Peace, History, Campaigns and about you if you care about these words.
I am SAM, an Iraqi refugee living in Lebanon at the moment; I have spent the last 9 years of my life as a refugee registered with the UNHCR in Beirut. The last 3 years, I have spent as an activist for peace and human rights (especially refugees and asylum seekers) on the Internet; I'm also books author and ebooks publisher. I have launched many campaigns to improve our situation as refugees in Lebanon and hopefully bring more understanding to our problems worldwide. I helped make many changes and improvements at the UNHCR office in Beirut; I used the Internet as the field for my activities (you can read more about that in my free ebook 'MY CAMPAIGNS'). All my e_books could be download from my website: http://www.unhcr.free2w.com all my ebooks are free.
My latest campaign is to stop the UNHCR from conducting illegal and humiliating actions, by using photos of refugees as banners and human-buttons to collect money. This is an abuse of the dignity and humanity of the refugees and must stop immediately and a clear public apology present by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. My friends, I am talking about the pictures you can see here: http://www.unhcr.free2w.com/if_human/if_human.htm
As I'm a refugee and an activist for human rights, I feel that the problems of refugees are not being solved by the UNHCR in fact their policies are worsening them. I have been saying this since the first day I started my activities and I said then that "If we want to improve the situation of the refugees in the world we must start with changing the policies of the UNHCR," I even wrote this in my books.
The people of the UNHCR have used these pictures as banners and buttons to collect money from donors. As a human being and a refugee, I felt these pictures represent a bad and offensive example of the disrespect for our humanity as refugees and asylum seekers. It does nothing to represent the meaning and the principles that were mentioned in the UN51 convention. It fills me with pain and sorrow to see this disrespect to our dignity and humanity and also how they are deceiving the community with these pictures.
Unfortunately, the people who work at the UNHCR are working hard to present to you a portrait of a refugee as a poor human being who's problem will end when you donate a few $$$. Please look at their website (just google for the unhcr) and look at the pictures there. Everywhere on the site you'll just see pictures about poor people!
They have worked hard to establish a deep-rooted connection between poverty and refugees. Everywhere in the world now if you ask anyone what the word 'refugee' means the answer will be "a poor person who has lost his home", does any one of you know another meaning for the word?
They have showed you just one thing: poor people as refugees and they made it clear that by paying some money to them, the problem will be solved; all it needs is financial resources! When you look directly at their websites, the pictures of poor people will grab your attention straight away! For UNHCR, the problem is money only! We all as humans need money, but not only the money! There are many things in the life not only money, for example things like what you could read in my free ebook 'REFUGEES FARM'.
When I started to post in Yahoo groups mentioning I'm a refugee, many people didn't believe me, and they asked, "how it was possible for me to have access to the Internet?" I was astonished at the beginning but afterwards I understood the reality of what they were saying and started to post messages telling the truth and because of this the UNHCR declared war on me and prosecuted me. So then I started to call myself "The Truth Warrior" because I am struggling to tell you the truth. I was the first refugee who wrote and published an e-book on the net and the first refugee who wrote and published an e-book about the UNHCR and the first who used the Internet as a weapon in his struggle to survive and to make changes in real life.
The people of the UNHCR emphasized the connection between the refugees and poverty and they drew a foggy picture of refugees, creating a strong impression about their poverty, more than the fact they were stateless refugees. They also put forward the idea it was the poverty creating the reality of them being refugees in the first place. Now it is an accepted idea in the world community that a refugee is just a poor person looking for a better life, well this is just not true! The majority of the world doesn't even realize that it is even possible for a millionaire to have to flee his home and be a refugee.
Article 1 of the Convention defines a refugee as "A person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution."
There is no mention made of the financial situation of the refugee or the degree of poverty he is experiencing, in plain simple words 'poverty does not make someone a refugee'. As I said before "the link between poverty and being a refugee is another thing entirely". Most of the time the situation of the refugees is bad because they have no security, no opportunities to get work and this then does create poverty! Its clear that giving money will not solve the problem, what's needed is real understanding for the problems that refugees are facing and they need global co-operation to solve these problems. This inspired me to adopt my motto:
Justice brings peace, freedom brings democracy
Understanding is the way.
Let me share with you some figures published by the UNHCR itself.
The table is on my site here: http://www.unhcr.free2w.com/if_human/if_human.htm
From that table, we can see the total private donations in year 2003 were US$ 20,072,010. Now let's analyze that number, Anyway if we consider the total numbers of asylum seekers and refugees and others of concern to the UNHCR which was 20,556,781 persons published on their table on the 1st of August 2003. Now we need to divide that amount on the number of refugees 20,072,010/20,556,781 guess what? It's equals $0.97!
So then each refugee will have a grand sum of $0.97 every year from these donations!!! Yes my friend, they humiliated us for less than $1 a year. Now let me think what I can do with this amount of money in one-year m'mmmm, maybe I can buy 2 bars of Lebanese candy! I registered with UNHCR more than 8 years ago now and until this day I have not received one cent from them! So according to that table they owe me $7.80, a fortune!!! I declare now that I don't want this money ($7.80) I just want them to remove these humiliating pictures and make a public apology. You can ask the UNHCR in Beirut about that point via their email: lebbe@... and please ask them also about the amount of the money that they give for the refugees in Lebanon now. I hope they'll answer you! Don't you think it's strange that it's hard to get answers from the UNHCR! You'll see if you're interesting to know the truth!
The big question is: Does all this money come from these human-buttons asking for donations on the UNHCR'S site? Does Pavarotti or Giorgio Armani need these human-buttons to make donations? If they need these buttons and it's a good way for collecting money for the UNHCR why don't they use their own pictures this way to bring more money in for the UNHCR. Also about Angelina Jolie, she is a goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR and she has worked hard to collect money for the UNHCR, she is pretty and attractive and her picture would make an excellent human-button. They could write on the Angelina Jolie button "make a donation and be like Angelina" or Send a donation to receive thanks from Angelina" do you think that would offend her or the others we spoke about? Why would it does you think??? Her pictures are everywhere so let them use these as a human-button to collect money if they feel it is inoffensive and not dishonorable to her.
The last thing about these numbers is the percentage of the amount that different governments contribution to the UNHCR. I read in one table the total is $928,865,984. So what will happen if the UNHCR loses the 20 million that comes from private donors, if they remove the human-buttons of refugees? OK, they will have $908,865,984, but they would be giving respect to the refugees of the world, do you think they care?
$0.97 a year makes no difference to a human being but if we divide the same amount between the number of people working for the UNHCR, I believe they have about 5000 employees... so 20,072,010/5000=$4014.40 more than $4000 a year don't you think that makes a difference?
I have finished now about the numbers, let us continue about the pictures, and the idea of using the Angelina Jolie, maybe you will say that her picture is already being used on the site of the UNHCR and you would be right! But there are a few differences between her picture and the pictures of the refugees. Angelina's picture isn't used to collect money; it's used to show how much she cares about people and her help for the UNHCR. When you click on her picture, you read about Angelina, but when you click on the human-button of the refugees you find a form to donate money.
The important difference being this, Angelina's picture gives you her name, dates and history. The human-buttons, say nothing about the people on them, no names, no dates, nothing! This pushed me to find out more about these human-buttons. I found out the truth about the picture on the Iraqi banner in the page about Iraq, and the button on this page to donate money. I wrote about it in my book "THE TRUTH WARRIOR" I could tell you quickly about it now, for more details please look in the book.
This is a picture of a Kurdish family, and it was taken in 1991! So that was 13 years ago!!! The funny thing is that they used it to illustrate and draw attention to an event that happened last year, writing on it "IRAQ EMERGENCY" strange to speak about an emergency and use a 13 year old picture don't you think?
Do you know why they used that picture? Because it was easy... they had it already, no new refugees crisis happened during the last war with the USA on Iraq in 2003! Guess what? This picture shows a Kurdish family fleeing by crossing the border near Suleymaniye in the north of Iraq! The problem now, of course is the returning of refugees who left during Saddam's rule. The age of the picture and the fact it was taken for a different reason, it's deceptive and dishonest act.
I would have thought that a big organization like the UNHCR would be able to get a more modern picture of what is happening. They receive information daily and I am sure they don't need to resort to 13-year-old pictures; this information is from the last century!!! Maybe now there are not any pictures of Iraqi refugees to encourage donors to click the human-button! What a pity for the people of the UNHCR and for the refugees, especially the Iraqis. I wonder, how old the other pictures?
Do you feel that the picture shows the real situation of Iraqi refugees now? Are the Iraqis still fleeing and seeking refuge outside Iraq? The truth is always painful. The UNHCR has stopped receiving new applications form Iraqis seeking help, and when an Iraqi goes to the UNHCR in Beirut to ask for assistance they are told that the only help they can get is repatriation to Iraq. At the moment Iraqi refugees are scattered around the world, Many countries are offering to help return Iraqis home. These countries governments mostly finance these plans. For example in England the government has offered $1000 plus the cost of their flight home to each refugee.
In Lebanon, we are not sure about the amount of financial support for those wishing to return home, but someone who had gone home told me that it was about $40 informed me, the source of the money was also unclear. Some people are saying that this money is from unknown Iraqi parties and some say the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut. I am currently looking for more information on this matter.
Anyway I don't feel the $40 dollars given to refugees in Lebanon is worth anything. Especially when viewed against the $1000 given by most European countries. The question is this: If there is no refugee crisis in Iraq and the financial support is being paid for by the governments where these people are, why is the UNHCR still asking for money using pictures of Iraqi refugees?
One more important question about that picture, do you think that the people who work for the UNHCR know anything about this woman or her family? Are they registered refugees? What is her name and where are they all now? Do you think she agreed to have her picture put on the web and used as a human-button?
I would love to know the answers to these questions, but unfortunately I can't ask the people at the UNHCR even though I tried many times over the years. They never answer any questions! Instead they have tried to hurt me and even tried to get my ISP to cut my connection! I hope one day you get the chance to ask them, and that maybe they will answer you. They didn't answer any of my friends who sent them messages. So please if you like, let us play their game and be a little cheeky. I hope that one of you can contact them and tell them you want to donate money to help the family they showed in the picture. Not telling them of course that you know the picture is old. Just tell them you want to sponsor that family. Notice that they wrote on it 'Emergency' so it's good to help them out! I'll wait with baited breath to hear their answers.
What do you think the answer will be? What do you think she would feel like if she saw her picture used like that, and what if her family sees her like this or someone in her village? She is a Moslem woman and to expose herself like this is a sin in Islam. Did you notice she uses two pieces of cloth to cover her head? The UNHCR using picture of Moslem woman on the net as a banner and as a human-button to collect money where millions of men could see her!!! That is a very big sin in Islam.
As I'm a Moslem and I am sure the UNHCR haven't asked the woman's permission to display her picture publicly like they are doing now, I am asking them to respect the Islamic religion and apologize to the woman and remove her picture immediately. Also I am asking each Moslem person reading this article to express their concern about this sin, which is being committed by the UNHCR for the sake of this woman and her family. Every Moslem knows what sin is, and it is also a sin to be silent when you see a wrong being committed. I am asking each Moslem to contact the UNHCR and express your opinion as we are guided to do by Islam. I'm asking Moslems particularly and all members of other religions generally, to express concern about the abuse of refugees because all religions are based on respect for the dignity of all humanity.
There is a legal point of view for this subject:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1950. According to the UN51 convention and the Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (G.A. res. 428 (V), annex, 5 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 20) at 46, U.N. Doc. A/1775 (1950)).
"CHAPTER II. - FUNCTIONS OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
10. The High Commissioner shall administer any funds, public or private, which he receives for assistance to refugees, and shall distribute them among the private and, as appropriate, public agencies which he deems best qualified to administer such assistance.
The High Commissioner may reject any offers which he does not consider appropriate or which cannot be utilized.
The High Commissioner shall not appeal to governments for funds or make a general appeal, without the prior approval of the General Assembly.
The High Commissioner shall include in his annual report a statement of his activities in this field."
As you can see the UNHCR must have permission from the General assembly for any general appeal for money. The question is: Did the General Assembly agree to use these pictures to appeal for funds?
I would sincerely love to receive an answer, I am a refugee and I feel it is an abuse of our humanity as refugees in this world. Its not just abuse for our humanity as refugees but for the humanity of all humans.
We appeal to you to support this campaign to remove these abuses and to provide more respect for all refugees worldwide. Our situation in the world worsens day after day without any new polices to help or improve our situation. The UNHCR uses us as human-buttons and baits to collect money! Our problem is not only because of poverty it's because the general abuse of the meaning and the principles of UN51 convention because of these money collectors in UNHCR and other organizations.
This abuse must stop immediately. If UNHCR needs money so badly, there must be other respectable and honorable ways to make general and public appeals for money. For example using buttons like paypal provides for donation without any humiliating pictures of humans at all.
I'm not saying that the people of UNHCR are all bad, they're just part of a system and they have their procedures and regulations. I just wanted to explain some of our feelings as refugees. To offer my understanding of the relationship between the refugees and the UNHCR. I'm an eyewitness to that relationship, trying hard to improve the relationship using my campaigns, my books and my unanswered questions.
I feel sad because the UNHCR has failed in the past 3 years to answer my questions. Until this day they failed to answer even one question! I'm not asking for the impossible. I just want some answers, as I'm a refugee, as I'm a human and as I'm an activist for human rights. All that gives me the right to ask and to have my questions answered.
I invite you as fellow humans and members of the world community to support my mission by asking the UNHCR to remove these abuses and to provide some reasonable answers for the questions that you have read in this article.
This invitation is a very important as part of the collective efforts to enhance respect for human rights, and for global peace. The UNHCR represent an important constituent of our community, as humans and any failure in its performance will weaken the harmony and peace of the world.
We're living in a time where wars are declared to liberate people from despotism and further democracy and human rights. Blood is being shed now to improve democracy and respect for human rights. Do we need wars and to shed blood every time we face disregard for human rights and democracy?! Isn't there any peaceful way?
I have heard many people claim that they're working to help the refugees and human rights activists and some of them are collecting money also. I'm asking these people: What are you doing to help refugees and enhance human rights and respect our humanity? I'd like to know, and if you have nothing to do now, you can start work and help refugees by working to remove these abuses and humiliations for all humans. Contact the UNHCR and ask them about these pictures and tell them that these pictures are an abuse of refugees' dignity and humanity, when you can do this then we can see that you really care about refugees.
I don't have any money to pay you but if you would like to help us in our struggle and you respect our humanity as refugees in the world, then we would be very thankful for this help. I'm an E-book publisher and I will be publishing many more E-books in the future. I would like to have answers to the questions in this article and since the people at the UNHCR refused to answer my questions, I declare now that I'll give free access to all of the E-books I will write in my lifetime to the first person who will find the answers to my many questions concerning the UNHCR. He/she will be a hero of all refugees and I'll write about them what they would like. I can't give them a medal now, but we will give them our love and our thanks as refugees.
Please, if you think this issue is important and needs acts, you can send messages to the UNHCR and your government to speak your opinions according to your rights and the democracy. Here are some emails: ecu@...,inquiries@...,Hqpr00@...,tb-petitions@...,info@...
Notice that you can find more emails on my website or you can brows for more on the net or to find more ways for contact them like phones or faxes.
Together we will build better world.
You could reach me fast via this form: http://www.unhcr.us/unhcrus/email_me.htm and if you like to know more about me, you can google for my name 'osam altaee'.
THE TRUTH WARRIOR