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a) Home, Humanity and Human Rights

Migration; an overview beyond what we hear about in the media, a
compilation of personal poetry, research and real stories

Migration, the first thing that the internet tells about this term is
Migration (human) is the movement of people from one place in the world
to another for the purpose of taking up permanent or semi permanent
residence, usually across a political boundary. An example of "semi
permanent residence" would be the seasonal movements of migrant farm
As children, we first learnt that the quintessential things needed for survival
were Food, Clothes and Shelter
But today, after reading stories of refugees and how the planet you were
born in, no more has a home, for you to live in.
Here is a poem written by Rhea Vakharia, member of Group 4, on her
home, the one she grew up in and her father grew up in, and how even
though within the same city, moving away from home, was difficult;
I was home three years ago,
Twelve feet high ceilings, it was designed like a maze,
Housed eleven people,
Each of them were different but they never parted ways,
They shared only one thing in common, a part of their lives,
I lived at home for thirteen years, and my father for forty five.
Dancing under the mud under the pouring rain,
Forgetting about homework and oblivious to the clothes we stained,
The terrace echoed our name,
You know, we knew every vendor in the lane; home

Home has never stopped haunting my mind,

My home for thirteen years , for my father forty five.
Each morning wed wake up,
Get ready to catch the bus to school,
Everyone HAD to have their milk,
Was my mothers only rule,
I remember giggling with sister in the corridor so wide,
I spent thirteen years there and my father spent forty five.
From books to board games,
Barbie dolls to cars, from paintings to childhood photo frames,
Home had six rooms.
With mine always in a mess,
Home was no castle, but I still felt like a princess,
The little things make me miss that time,
I miss my thirteen years at home, Im sure my father misses his forty five.
Often wed have friends over,
With them land and water wed play,
And then pester their parents over the phone,
Asking if they could stay,
Eventually they stay the night, knowing their parents did mind,
Those were the best thirteen years for me, for my father the best forty five,
Come Diwali, and wed beam,
Home was always sparkling clean,
How much mithai we ate everyday was funny,
Kind aunties and uncles blessed us with money,
Into a pool of Diwali memories, Im going to dive,
I celebrated thirteen Diwalis at home, and my father celebrated forty five.
Youll always find your way back home they said,
I didnt find mine last time I checked,
I live somewhere now, in a house I think,
But I see home every time I blink,
Every time I press pause, nostalgia presses rewind,
I think itll take me thirteen years to call this place home, and itll take my father
perhaps another forty five?
-Rhea Vakharia

This simple poem shows how a human being needs some place they can
call home. Here, this one individual feels so much about leaving her home
along with her family, and on the other side of the planet, 4 million refugees

dont even know what coming back home feels like. With every newspaper
article talking about the Syrian refugee crisis, the politicized crisis often
ignores the human cries, and the individual stories; The online photo and
story blog, Humans Of New York, recently did a series of stories of
migrants from Syria, and raised funds via online fund raisers and petitions.

One of the stories that really moved me was the story of Aya, here is an
excerpt from her story,
(1/11) When I was a baby I came very close to dying. Im not sure how to say the name of the
disease in English, but all the water in my body started to dry. I couldnt gain weight and I
became very weak. This was during Saddams time, and the hospital staff told my mother that in
two days they would euthanize me. But my mother refused to accept this. She called
everywhere and found a clinic in Jordan that said they could give me treatment. There was an
American doctor there who saved my life. We stayed in Jordan until I was seven, and then we
moved back to Baghdad. One day I was playing in our garden and I heard very loud noises and
the sky was really red and everyone was screaming. Its very hard to describe. It was like there
was blood in the sky.

(2/11) This is a photo of me right before the war came. Maybe my parents knew the war was
coming, but they didnt tell me. I wouldnt have understood. I didnt even know the meaning of
war. Bombs started falling all around us. We lived very near one of Saddams castles. My
mother told us: It will be very loud, but nothing bad will happen to us. We will all be here

together. Many houses in our neighborhood were destroyed, but Id close my ears and sing
songs whenever the bombs came close. In the cartoon shows, the good always wins, so I
thought that we were good and nothing would happen to us. Then one day I heard a big sound
and I saw that my best friend Miriams house had been destroyed. We walked to school together
every day. I went to see if she was OK and I saw Miriam on the ground. She didnt have any legs
and she was screaming and I can still hear that sound now. They pulled me away but I saw
everything. I dont think it was good for a child to see this.

(3/11) After Miriam died, I began to have silly thoughts. I thought that I was supposed to be
President of the World. It sounds funny now but I was just ten years old. I thought that if I was
really clever in school and got all the best marks, I would become a leader and I could stop the
war. I could just tell everyone to love each other and they would listen to me. I taught myself
English during this time. I would listen to American songs and translate every word. Id watch
Hollywood movies. Id practice talking to myself in front of the mirror every night. Id even give
gum to American soldiers so I could have conversations with them. I thought maybe if I just
concentrated on my studies, I could avoid the war. It worked for two years. But one day I was
driving with my father and a car bomb exploded ahead of us. I got out of the car because I
thought that maybe I could save the people but there were hands and heads in the street.
Everyone was dead. It was like a horror movie. It was like Titanic but it was really happening and
it was in the street.

(4/11) These things are very hard for me to remember, but I try not to cry because I want to be
strong for my mother. It was hardest for her because she had children. During the war she had
to worry about herself, but she also had to worry about us. It made her very ill. Her blood
pressure is very high now. Her hand shakes. She has bladder problems. But she is my hero
because she always protected us. One time when my father wasnt home, a strange man
entered our house. But my mother pretended to be a man and screamed downstairs in a very
deep voice. And she saved us.
(5/11) Our house in Baghdad was located near a military compound, and the militia officers
wanted it for themselves. They sent three men to our house to order us to leave. When my
father refused, they mailed us an envelope with bullets inside. My father was working as a
library security guard during this time. The militia went to the library and murdered my fathers
coworkerthinking it was him. My father became very scared when he heard this. He told us we
had to pack all our clothes into bags and leave Iraq immediately. It was the middle of the night. I

didnt want to go. I didnt want to leave my bedroom or my school or my friends. I wasnt even
allowed to say goodbye to anyone. Nobody knew we were leaving. When the taxi arrived, I held
onto the doorframe and screamed that I wasnt going. My father pulled me away and told me
that we were going to live in a better place. That night we drove to Syria.

( Photos taken in, Gaziantep, Turkey)

Stories like this get you to think about how we are all living on a cloud, with
all the comforts and then one day, instead of living our lives it all becomes
about survival. How war and bloodshed changes a childs mind and paints
a gory picture of the world. They say human beings move from a place to
another in search of greener pastures, but today, every place is stricken by
terrorism, war, and everything that doesnt symbolize humanity.
Siddhant Sanghavi, member of group 4, has a clear stance about
migration, after hours of research he came up with this;
According to me, it is very wrongly thought and misconceived that refugees are mostly
harmful or cause societal and economic imbalance to a nation.
Refugees are not homeless by choice. They have been pushed out of their homes by
war and are working harder than most of us ever have to work, and in the most adverse
conditions, simply to return to a semblance of productive, normal life.
*The first fact we can establish is that while countries like the UK and the US are
experiencing historically high levels of migration this migration wave has not been
accompanied by a parallel crime wave. In the UK, crime rates have fallen continuously
since 2002, a drop that coincided with Eastern European arrivals. 3 In the US, there has
been a 45% drop in violent crime, and a 42% drop in property crime since 1990. During
the same period, the number of unauthorised migrants climbed from 3.5 to 11 million,
and the percentage of the population who were foreign born rose from 8 to 13%. 4

Perhaps citizens have become far more law-abiding, and even if the crimes are caused
by refugees or immigrants, it is mostly because they already apprehensive about
rejcection, they havent ever been accepted in society and it is human tendency to take
a wrong step when oone hasnt been guided enough or accepted at all.
It is also a proven indication* that higher levels of crimes are not a result of immigrants.
It is the duty of the government or a nation to find out which kind of refugees or
migrants are harmful or resort to crime. Because all refugees cannot be generalized to
cause societal imbalance.
Of course, for some observers some migrants are already criminals by the time theyve
arrived here, because they did so without authorization: they are illegals. But even if
you hold this viewpoint, its important to recognise that while irregular migrants may
have broken the law by crossing a border or overstaying their visas, this act does not
make them habitual criminals.
Under international law, we all have a right to ask for sanctuary from persecution. Of
course, the claim may be denied. But this does not make it a criminal act.
A person who barely has money or bread for himself, can very improbably afford to
cause imbalance to a society with arms and forces.
From the economic point of view as well, refugees and migrants do not affect the
economy of a nation negatively. Infact,
Refugees and immigrants can be a great source of development for a nation too. There
are so many instances, in India itself where refugees have proven to be an integral part
of raising new communities, diversities and causing major developments in the country
because of high skilled refugees. They give birth to new cultures, and the trade levels
are boosted too. Various examples, both national and international can be stated
proving this.
Many refugees are driven, skilled, experienced workers. These are not people who aim
to limp through life in a foreign land. These are people who will pull their weight.

Some refugees turn out to do spectacular things.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Intel CEO Andrew Grove, Google
cofounder Sergey Brin, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang were all refugees. The
American children of Syrian immigrants have a pretty impressive track record, too. If
youve never heard of the award-winning Syrian-American novelist Mona Simpson,
maybe youve heard of her Syrian-American brother, Steve Jobs.
As the US plans to resettle 10,000 Syrians next year, many are eyeing the news with
concern. Critics fear that refugee resettlement, though a compassionate program, will
prove to be a far too costly endeavor.
Yet economic evidence clearly suggests that, despite upfront costs, the long-run impact
of resettlement will be neutral and could actually trigger modest economic stimulus.
From a humanitarian angle, it is hard to argue against resettling Syrians in the United
States. Seven and a half million Syrians have been internally displaced, and 4 million
externally displaced since 2011. Over 200,000 civilians have been killed since the onset
of the civil war four years ago. Life expectancy has dropped by 20 years, and 80
percent of Syrians now live in poverty.
Dr. Ramy Arnaout of MIT and Harvard Medical School, who is now at the Beth Israel
Deaconess medical center in Boston. He describes himself, as you will see, as a bornand-bred, die-hard New Englander who happens to be the child of Lebanese
immigrants. He argues that its time for the U.S. to move aggressively in making room
for more of the people displaced by the horrors in Syria.
A steady stream of Syrian refugees walk on a motorway at Tabanovce, Macedonia, near the Serbian
border last month

~ Rhea Vakharia, Editor

~ Siddhant Sanghavi along with valuable inputs
from Kajal Gandhi and Mariam Mashraki.