Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Refugee Life: Inhuman and Miserable

A first-hand look at how refugees live. Boaz Niyinyumva, Resident at Chogoria Hospital, Kenya
The Call, July-September 2016

In October 1993, civil war broke out in Burundi, causing thousands of Burundians to seek refuge in neighboring countries and many others to be displaced within Burundi. I was 9 years old at that time, and I was obliged to live in both situations.

We were abandoned in our own country. I was considered to be impure because of my race and ethnic group. The dominant group said that I didn’t deserve to live. My family and I had to leave our house and go to live in another province within Burundi where there were other “impure” races. My siblings and I stopped schooling and my father lost his job. We had to struggle for daily living by doing things that we have never done. We had no medical assistance, no clean water, and no supplies. 

After some months, we had to flee to the Democratic Republic of the Congo because the crisis had become worse. Being a refugee in a foreign country was my worst experience ever. Besides lacking the daily needs to survive, we were mistreated by locals—soldiers were arresting Burundian refugees every day just because they wanted money from us. For our release, we were obliged to sell part of our food provisions given by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) so we could pay the soldiers. My father and brother were taken several times to prison. Several Burundian young women were raped by soldiers and locals, but if anyone reported this to UNHCR officials, they were taken to prison.

As children, we were often emotionally abused by the local children and even bitten. We were like prisoners, with no free movements. We ate whatever we could get. We were not allowed to swim in Lake Tanganyika at the same place as the locals. 

As refugees, we were considered to be a threat to the peace of the hosting country and to the security of its citizens. So we were moved from big cities to remote areas, far from the main city to a bigger refugee camp. At 11 years old, I saw people dying because of lack of medical care or food or they were killed by soldiers. I had to work to help my dad make money for us to survive. Soon after that, my father and brother died, probably killed by the soldiers. We still are not sure.

I would not wish for anyone to be a refugee, because the life of a refugee in some African countries is inhuman and miserable. Schooling, food, clean water, and clothing became a dream. Discrimination and the stigma of being a refugee became part of daily life.

No one should be a refugee.

Pray for refugees
PRAY: Boaz’s story is not an isolated event. Many, many families face these same challenges and dream of food, clean water, and clothing. Pray that God will provide for their needs today and that He will use His Church to impact the lives of refugees around the world. 
Post a Comment