It has been a long time since my last post on my blog. Not because the suffering of Iraqis and Syrians has become less in the last months – more to the contrary!
But sometimes my job, the job of so many of my colleagues – humanitarian aid workers – in an emergency response like the one I am currently working in, Mosul, is overwhelming! It makes you speechless and forces you to your limits, to work even harder, to try to alleviate suffering and serving the most vulnerable people with the limited resources and capacities one has been given – the international community has been giving, in terms of manpower and life saving assistance. It feels like being in various parallel universes at the same time. Being located in the save areas of Northern Iraq, Kurdistan Iraq, cities like Dohuk and Erbil, while implementing emergency response activities in newly retaken areas around and in Mosul – not forgetting (though too often forgotten) the ongoing support of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and returnees following 2014. Between war-zone and „normal life“….
The people you meet often times make you wonder if there is any justice out there and if peace will ever succeed. So many stories of families ripped apart, having nothing left than what they could carry with them. Families who lived for more than 2 years under ISIL occupation, being exposed to tremendous horrors. Children who lost their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Each and every of their stories, their lives should be told in order for all of us and the rest of the world to understand what it means to being forced to flee – to seek safety and – if possible – a future. Humanitarian aid is like a plaster on a deep wound, which can only serve for a moment – it is an immediate life saving support. Already at this stage we struggle – there is never enough funding to assist everyone! There is never enough access, security, planning and coordination to ensure that the most vulnerable are 100% reached – despite all efforts! But what next? What comes after the „liberation“? What are the big political strategies to avoid any kind of fall back into revenge, retaliation, disputes, underlying deeper conflicts? The next deadly conflicts are just around the corner if longer term, sustainable, realistic and honest strategies are missing.
And then you read the news from home and abroad: USA implementing a travel ban for Muslims, Hungary deciding to detain all asylum seekers, right wing parties in so many European countries using refugees to create an atmosphere of fear to win elections, new walls made of concrete or razor wire against „waves of refugees“ built all over the world, a constantly rising death toll of refugees and migrants in the Med….
And you realize becoming silent is not the way forward – you have to speak up, stand up, rise awareness, argue, fight – for that we do not forget: it is a human responsibility and duty to support the most vulnerable, to support those of us who are forced to flee their homes due to violence, war, terror, oppression – in countries of origin and destination!