Want to learn more about the refugee crisis during Covid-19? Human rights activist and podcaster Jaz O’Hara shares her best resources for Stylist readers to find out more.
It’s Refugee Week (15-21 June), which means a seven-day UK-wide festival spotlighting and celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.
The latest statistics shared by The UN Refugee Agency show why this is more important than ever: there are 25.9 million refugees in the world—the highest ever seen, and one person in every 108 is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
Added to these devastating and infuriating statistics is the fact we’re also now in a pandemic. How exactly has Covid-19 impacted this? And what can we be doing to help right now?
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It’s an issue that human rights activist and podcaster Jaz O’Hara explores in the latest episode of The Worldwide Tribe Podcast.
Focusing on the biggest camp in the world, Bangladesh’s Kutupalong, which is home to over 1.6 million Rohingya refugees, the episode features conversations between O’Hara and Dr. Maryam, who has been working in Kutupalong since 2018. It starts in late 2019, when no one knew what the following months had in store, and progresses to voice recordings on the situation from Dr. Maryam in the camp and how healthcare workers are dealing with the crisis.
For anyone who wants a starting point in finding out more about the refugee crisis: this is it. And if you want to learn more, O’Hara has shared the best resources for Stylist readers to make use of.
Jaz O’Hara’s best Refugee Week resources
The Lightless Sky, by Gulwali Passarlay
“This beautiful book tells the story of my good friend Gulwali’s journey to safety as a child refugee from Afghanistan. He gives an incredible insight into life under the rule of the Taliban, to finding safety in the UK aged just 12 years old. I read this book during the same time that my parents began fostering my Afghan brother Arash, who’s journey echoed that of Gulwali’s. I will be forever grateful to Gulwali for giving some context and increasing my understanding of what Arash had been through.”
Butterfly, by Yusra Mardini
“Yusra’s story is one of ultimate adversity and huge triumph. She became internationally known for swimming her boat to safety after it capsized during her crossing as a refugee from Turkey to Greece. One year later, she went on to represent the Refugee Team, swimming in the Rio Olympics at just 17 years old. She has since continued to advocate for refugee rights whilst gaining asylum in Germany and continuing her studies. Young, beautiful and brave, Yusra is an incredible role model and I hung off her every word during our podcast episode together.”
Living Undocumented, Netflix
“Phwoar… this six-part documentary about families affected by the changing immigration policies under Trump’s administration is eye-opening and heartbreaking. Having worked mostly within refugee camps in Europe, it was shocking and heartbreaking to meet and become invested in these American-centric stories through this incredibly executed series.”
“This series followed the stories of people attempting to cross into Europe as refugees. What sets it apart is that the BBC provided people with cameras so that they could document their own journey in a way that no film crew would ever be able to. This made for a real intimate insight and I will never forget the moment when my Syrian friend Hassan Akkad touches down in the UK after successfully using a fake passport. It makes me cry my eyes out ever time.”
For Sama, Channel 4
“Be prepared… this film is one of the most powerful and emotional films I have ever seen. Syrian filmmaker Waad documents besieged Aleppo and the horrors of life there, whilst juxtaposing it with the beautiful moments of her falling in love, getting married and having her daughter Sama. It’s a MUST watch, but have the tissues ready.”
“This episode of this awesome podcast was the first ever radio show to be awarded this prestigious prize, and I’m so glad that it did. It talks about Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and what it actually means, on the ground at the Mexico border.”
“I may be biased, but this episode of my podcast with my mum is my favourite. She talks about the ups and downs of welcoming three teenage boys from three very different countries into our family – but it’s mostly ups. Fostering unaccompanied refugee children has been the most beautiful experience for our whole family and one we are happy to share!”
Girl Taken, BBC Radio 4
“You may remember the story of Rob Lawrie, a former British soldier who was arrested for people trafficking after he was caught trying to smuggle a three-year-old girl from The Calais Jungle Refugee Camp into the UK. In the end it was named a crime of compassion, but that court case was just the beginning of the story. This 10-part series follows what happened after when Rob tries to find the girl, as well as the truth.”
You can also listen to The Worldwide Tribe Podcast: COVID-19 in the World’s Biggest Refugee Camp below
The Worldwide Tribe podcast is available to stream on all major platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Season three of the podcast will launched on 20 June (World Refugee Day) with episodes airing fortnightly. Keep up to date with Jaz and @theworldwidetribe on Instagram.
How to support Refugee Week: you can donate to Refugee Week on the charity’s website.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…