“The world is facing its greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945” – Stephen O’Brien, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator.

Things are evidently bad on the humanitarian front and one has to stop and wonder what is happening to humanity. There is too much human suffering caused by fellow humans in different parts of the world as we see daily in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, DRC, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to name a few. One wonders what would happen if humanitarian organizations were nowhere in the picture. As much as they’re not necessarily able to return people to their mother countries, they do offer lifesaving assistance and protection to refugees.

It may be easy to relegate humanitarian matters to the back of our minds. To be so caught up in our daily lives, that we forget to think about the plight of people who have been uprooted from their normal lives and separated from their families. Children have been yanked mercilessly from their happy playful lives. It must take a lot for one to leave one’s mother country and take on a dangerous trek to destinations unknown. To get to a point where the only option is to go to a strange country and suffer the indignity of living under humanitarian aid. This is something that nobody would wish for. Yet, it is the plight of millions of refugees as the world marches boldly towards the worst humanitarian crisis since the World Wars.

Take Erick Museveni, for example, who escaped Congo in 2015 due to unrest. Congo’s long-lasting conflict is well documented and as much as the country has realized peace in some parts, there is still much conflict in North and South Kivu where fighting between subsequent Governments and rebels is still prevalent. By the end of 2015, the UNHCR placed the number of DRC refugees at close to 500,000 scattered across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda among other neighbouring African countries.

If you understand the geographical layout of Congo, you know that there are thousands of acres upon acres of dense forest. These are the forests that refugees often need to cross in search of safety, all the while facing the real danger of getting captured by vicious warlords who will not hesitate to butcher fellow human beings and in some cases even eat them. The young man, Erick, tried to cross the forest in the company of other people but they were accosted by the enemy rebels. Only he and a friend managed to escape, and he attributes this to luck, young age and therefore ability to outrun the killers. Otherwise all the other people they were with were killed. While he managed to come here (Kenya), his family escaped separately to Rwanda.

I can only liken his plight and that of many others to the guerrilla movies I’ve watched and thought that these scripts can’t be real. The thing is, these plots are informed by true happenings and there is a lot of atrocities happening in warring countries.

Sad as it is, Erick’s journey is not all doom and gloom. He’s a talented musician and through the Artists for Refugees program here in Kenya, he has been able to not only put his talents to use and make a much better life for himself, but also to set up a music school where he trains other refugees.

Africa is on a mission to redefine her refugees. Through deliberate initiatives by the UNHCR, we can now take part in shaping the narrative concerning our refugee situation and even help as individuals. Through the recently launched LuQuluQu campaign, you can be part of helping refugees reshape their lives one day at a time. Here is how. 

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