Author: Bárbara Gras, director of Projects at Quiero and coordinator of Sustainable Brands® Madrid 2018
The arrival of boat «Aquarius» in the Port of Valencia, after a week sailing through the Mediterranean without knowing where to touch land after the rejection of the new Italian Government to dock on its coast, has once again revealed this global drama, a few days before World Refugee Day, which is commemorated today and every 20th June.
The images and testimonies of those 629 people, of whom 123 are minors, upon their arrival in Spain, reflect their own personal histories, survival stories and dreams.
Gratitude, happiness, joy and hope have been the words that these 629 people have repeated the most, while the global figures of refugees increase. According to the latest UNHCR report «Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2017», a total of 68.5 million people, 2.9 million more than the previous year, have been forcibly displaced throughout the world as a result of persecution, conflicts, violence or human rights violations.
And armed conflicts continue to generate human tragedies. The eight years of war in Syria have caused 5.6 million Syrians to seek refuge outside the country, including 2.6 million children. The civil war in South Sudan has forced 2.5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries, and that of Yemen is causing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, generating the displacement within the country of 100,000 people so far this year. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has hosted more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees since August 2017, who have been forced to flee Myanmar because of government persecution, and Cox’s Bazar beach has become the largest refugee camp in the world.
Faced with this global situation, in which refugees are seen as a burden on the host countries and revive the protectionist, xenophobic and sensationalist speeches, we at Quiero do not want to be neutral, because there are realities to which we do not want to maintain equidistance.
At Sustainable Brands® Madrid 2018 the global situation of the refugees will be part of the conversion «Redesigning the Good Life: Brands Serving Humanity». Because if we want to generate a sustainable and harmonious well-being of the human being and the environment, the equation necessarily involves having a diverse society. It is not possible to redesign the world without counting on the most disadvantaged part – which, incidentally, is the largest part – to create more inclusive and prosperous societies. Talent, experience, creativity and diversity of thought, including these of those who start a new life away from their country of origin, must be present in all organizations to transform society. It is about improving among all as human beings, without borders.
For these reasons, at Quiero we believe that companies and brands have an opportunity to generate positive change and find solutions for people who arrive in host countries, as well as Nations and NGOs. In addition, any Sustainability strategy should have specific actions to integrate refugees into society if it is to respond to global challenges.
Refugees Welcome, an NGO that was born in Berlin in 2014 after the flight of thousands of Syrians to the coasts of Greece via Turkey to reach Europe, will give its vision at Sustainable Brands® Madrid 2018 on the global needs of people seeking asylum, and will explain how he works in the 14 countries in which the NGO has a presence.
As António Guterres, UN Secretary General says: «It is not about sharing a burden, but about sharing a global responsibility, based both on the general idea that we are all human and on the very specific obligations contracted under international law. «
I, you, she, he, we, us, or they could be refugees, both in Spain and in any part of the development world.