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What we do

Homeland, National Identity and Conflict Returnees

National identity has become so important in recent times that people from different nations treat each others as aliens. They do not think it is their responsibility to help people from other nations who may be in desperate need. The notion that we all are human beings is overpowered by the idea of national identity.

A government elected by the people of a country has the prime responsibility for the welfare of its electorates.  However, war, conflicts and disasters are not confined to the borders of one state alone. Often, humanitarian crisis are regional in dimension and are beyond the national capacity to resolve. It requires assistance at global level. In such situations, barriers of nationhood come down and a wave of humanitarianism overtakes the rescue and recovery effort. In such situations, national, regional and international humanitarian agencies all come together to provide emergency relief.  These charitable organisations strengthen the unity and oneness of humanity amongst people of different nationalities, faiths and cultures.  The aid provided to a nation in dire need comes from people from different national and geographical identities. Hence the desire to help fellow being surpasses the perception of alienating people by national territories. People from developed and under developed nations are viewed equally from humanitarian perspective.

Lack of economic opportunities, political turmoil, instability, insecurity, war, social discrimination, natural disaster and communal violence are some of the reasons people decide to leave their homes and become either internally displaced persons or refugees. No matter which part of the world people live in, they always think about their homeland. The deep passion, respect and love for their country drive them to return to it when things are normal. People who are forced to leave their countries during crisis have little or no chance to take with them their belongings. They face great difficulties as refugees and have great challenges to resettle when they return. These returnees live below poverty line and are often in need of emergency food and non food items, access to shelter, healthcare services and education. Timely support from aid agencies can help the returnees to resettle and re-establish their lives. Muslim Aid’s emergency relief programmes have always focused on preparing people to stand on their own.

For instance, conflict returnees in Batticaloa, Kurunegala and Mannar districts in Sri Lanka were living under very poor conditions, with no proper housing, water, and healthcare or education facilities. Children had to walk several kilometres everyday to get to school. In 2012, Muslim Aid constructed 3 pre-schools which enabled children to have easy access to education in a friendly and safe environment. In the same year, the Charity also ran mobile clinics in Baghdad, Iraq to serve returnee children under age of 5. This aid programme included health awareness campaign, first aid sessions and the distribution of first aid kits which benefitted around 500 children.

In 2007, Muslim Aid implemented skill and training, education as well as agriculture and farming programmes for war returnees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most recently, the charity is implementing healthcare and water projects for the war returnees in Somalia.

*The copyright of this article is held by the Information and Public Affairs Department of Muslim Aid, UK. Use of its contents is allowed subject to acknowledgement. The opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent the point of view of Muslim Aid.

By: Amal Imad
Information & Public Affairs Department
Muslim Aid