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14 JUNE 2022  |  ISSUE 405

Dear Members and Friends

The very last thing the world needed as it emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic this year was a war. The uncalled for and illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February is the latest example of human greed, inhumanity, selfishness and utter stupidity. The people who suffer most are always innocent civilians millions of whom have had to flee their homes, loved ones and lives. Millions of other people around the world are impacted by food shortages caused by the callous blockade of Ukrainian ports. And for what? For the misplaced pride of an autocrat who cares for nothing and nobody except for a distorted view of the past that never really existed. Why do we humans keep letting this happen? Why?

Nearer home, we have the equally inhumane, genocidal treatment of the Rohingya people by Myanmar under civilian and military governments. The Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh - a country with more than enough of its own problems without the added challenges of providing refuge for hundreds of thousands of persecuted fellow human beings. And yet, Bangladesh did help with the support of international aid agencies.

All too often it is the refugees who get the blame not the people or the regimes which caused them to become refugees. It is the refugees who are treated as some kind of sub-species when they are just like the rest us imperfect humans looking for a safe place to live a decent life. Remember them on World Refugee Day on 20 June ladies and gentlemen and appreciate the peace, harmony and safety we all enjoy in Singapore.

Your fellow member Dr. Michelle Dimasi of MAXIMUS has written a book on the topic of refugees with a link to an island that was once part of Singapore not so long ago. Read on.

Yours faithfully
Victor Mills
Chief Executive

Global migration is a phenomenon affecting many. Some of us migrate by choice. But sadly, many don’t. With International Refugee Day upon us, it’s worth reflecting that currently there are 20 million refugees; 4 million asylum seekers; and 48 million internally displaced people.

However, not only are refugees impacted by migration but so are host communities. “Hope, Solidarity and Death at the Australian Border: Asylum Seekers and Christmas Island” examines this relationship between asylum seekers and the Christmas Island host community. This small Australian island, once part of Singapore, provides clues as to why humans can respond to those in need, especially those turning up on our doorsteps seeking help. Many Asian islanders were victims of apartheid under the Australian government, an often-unknown story who through the Union of Christmas Island Workers bravely fought for their rights and equality. They are no strangers to marginalisation and draw on their own experiences to reveal how compassion and solidarity should determine how we treat refugees.

As the global refugee crisis grows, it’s important to remember that those seeking asylum are no different to you or me with similar needs including safety and freedom. This book is the first of its kind to examine Christmas Island and asylum seekers and all book royalties go to The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The book is available at Cambridge Scholars Publishing (use HOPE10) for SICC members to receive 10% discount; and also available on Amazon and at Singapore bookstores.

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