By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
February 1, 2004

Boy eating bread for first time in two days... he died later that afternoon

A Sudanese Refugee and her child in the desert.

People move. From desperate and strangling economic states to a nation where one looks for a better life.

People move. From war torn places to a place with plentitude.

Billions of people of our world are struggling amid endless poverty. Children born in slum and ghettos, in villages challenged with famine and abject poverty. Families uprooted by tribal warfare in Africa, or struggles for natural resources in the Middle East. Religion exploiters are out in force, forcing out minorities, mumbling words of “wisdom” from thousand year old scriptures.

Refugees flee their homeland, their memory filled place, good or bad, but still it was their birth place, but out of fear of death, out of fear of persecution, they flee and seek refuge to this world of ours, to a place where their children won’t be hacked to death for the reasons they don’t know about, to a place, where they will have food to subdue the grumbling hunger, and rasping thirst from drinkable water.

United Nations established UNHCR in 1951 for the purpose of rehabilitation of these unfortunate people. There are between twenty two to thirty five million refugees around the world, living in makeshift tents, many of them living their entire lives, giving birth to babies, these tents have become their home away from home.

Seldom their plights, their distressful lives’ stories come to the news, and the world come forward with donations, and indeed without these donations, more people would be in worse state. Still, it is not enough. More to be done for these people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods for the reasons beyond their comprehension in most cases, they were not involved in political causes, the violence that uprooted them, the famine that devastated them, the flood or miserable political struggles persecuted them from village to village, town to town, and nation to nation, are not their making. It is the makings of a failed world system that is in grip of profitable ventures where the fates and plights of refugees attract negligible attentions.

Article 1 of Geneva Convention defines the refugees: "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 are refugees who flee their nations, and there are internally displaced people within the boundary of a nation. UNHCR and other human rights organizations are doing exemplary work in alleviating pain, providing them food, medicines and needed comfort in the time of their distress and agony. In many cases, due to war, due to uncontrollable violence in remote regions, these help cannot reach the people who needed them the most. When the world comes to know the grim news of deaths and devastations, only despair of failure remain in human conscious. But many from the lands of plentitudes do not give up. Many travel without fear, without the notion of profit, to help the remaining survivors, the weak and tortured, in the jungle, living in a mud hut, or hiding in bushes, yearning for help from their silent gestures.


1. “Refugees living in the desert”, News 24, January 29, 2004.,6119,2-11-1447_1475505,00.html

2. Picture 1:

3. Picture 2:

4. The UN Refugee Agency.

5. "The Camp called the Slaughterhouse", Stephen Puddicombe, CBC,

6. "The Horror Stories Kept Coming", Eric Rankin, CBC,


Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: