Sender: Supporter of UNHCR
Date: Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:32 pm
Hello, Mr. Osam Altaee
I happen to be a member of a Yahoo! group, one which has no relation to the
email you sent. But it caught my attention, nevertheless. Solely because I'm a
UNHCR activist, and I speak in favor of all that the UNHCR has to offer. I do
feel a need to express my sympathy for your rough time, being a refugee, and
surviving a difficult tribulation. However, I don't quite understand your
negativity towards the UNHCR.
It's true you've been registered as a refugee under the UNHCR for 10 years,
correct? I find it necessary to ask: Would you have been able to survive without
the assistance of the UNHCR? Did you receive food from them? Shelter? Medical
care of any sort? If UNHCR is really that bad, why be registered under them for
The funny thing is, you base your views on their morals on the fact that they
use pictures...pictures. Your campaign is mindless. It has no validity to the
survival of refugees. Are you saving a refugee's life by telling people to stop
using pictures as a way to promote their plight? You need to understand
something: I live in the United States of America and I know what it's like to
be a citizen here. I have the ability to watch people's attitudes around me. The
US is a very developed and prosperous country. People here need some sort of
visual aid to help them understand the nature of the situation. Otherwise, they
blow it off. People HAVE to see to understand. We see nothing of the kind here,
and it's difficult for us (most of us) to grasp the concept of a person who has
to flee their home amidst civil war or persecution based on the beliefs of a
singular group of people or individual beliefs. We don't use these pictures to
downgrade people's dignity...we use them so others can survive.
As far as the definition of a refugee: I know your arguments aren't legitimate.
I've read numerous times on the UNHCR website that the definition of a refugee
(roughly...this is coming from my memory) is any person who must flee their
country of origin to seek refuge or asylum in another because he/she has been
stripped of his/her natural human rights due to the inhumane attack and
persecution on a particular individual's race, religion, political beliefs, etc.
That clearly doesn't state anything about money. It doesn't mention their lack
of money due to poverty. Remember that a majority of problems begin in countries
with no solid foundation of governemnt...a nation still labelled as
"developing". Therefore it wouldn't be wrong to say that these people are in
poverty...because they are. But that's never put in such a definiton of a
refugee. Nothing I've read has ever stated, "Refugees are in Poeverty. All of
them." Just to clear things up even more, I've read some very touching stories
of people who have fled Colombia and retreated to Equador. Most of them were
very prosperous doctors at one point, until they were forced to flee. There's a
good example of someone who wasn't previously in poverty. Your argument about a
millionaire being labelled as a refugee: While I see the basis of your point,
you fail to understand that if they are still a millionaire when they flee and
become a refugee, I doubt they will be in need of the UNHCR's services, don't
you agree? But if they flee and lose everything they have...then they are
clearly a refugee in need of survival assistance.
And the fact that you haven't seen a cent of money from the UNHCR in 10 years,
is a good thing. They're not there to provide you money. They're there to help
you survive, and sometimes that means only the most basic of things. They can't
do it all. If they could, then there would be no refugees. But the point is that
they can keep people from taking their last breath. And sometimes, that's all
the dignity a person needs. The will to survive, the courage to make it
through...is more dignity than most people have around here. I look up to
You're taking a very wrong approach at trying to change something so minute to
the great cause that UNHCR has been making. You talk mostly of money and
people's pictures. Is this really something to worry about? To put so much
attention on? The UNHCR has their flaws...as does every organization, as does
You talk of the horrible conditions in camps and the lack of food. These camps
are heavens to some of these people. I'm sure they would have rather stayed in
their place of origin and died, because their house was burned down and they had
no food, right? See? That's absurd. They may not have everything in these camps,
but they do have a place to stay, food to eat, medical care, and some security.
In regards to the picture taken 13 years ago: who cares about the age of the
pictute? They were fleeing for the same reason. Who needs up-to-date, when the
plight of that particular family is the same as it is now. They're all seeking
human rights and a place to be able to survive. It's the universal plight of
But anyway, these are my opinions. I'm sorry if I upset you, but I wanted you to
thoroughly understand where I was coming from. And none of this will probably
change your mind, but at least I said what I believed.
Supporter of UNHCR
Dear Supporter of UNHCR,
I’m not upset while reading your message but honestly it made me glad because you’re the first one in years who send me message to defend the UNHCR against me campaign and who connects to the UNHCR even if not formally. I respect the right of others to express their opinions and I’ll help to publish their opposite opinion as I’m doing with mine and I’ll write my comments and discuses some pints in your message.
UNHCR: “Would you have been able to survive without the assistance of the UNHCR? Did you receive food from them? Shelter? Medical care of any sort? If UNHCR is really that bad, why be registered under them for 10 years?”
SAM: I survive without any help from the UNHCR and even with their prosecution and their threats. Until today they’re refusing to do any thing for me. I was arrested 2 times and jailed fro 2 months because of the UNHCR! I registered with the UNHCR because I thought and still think it as link between the community and the refugees, now this link doesn’t work for me so I’m using the Internet to speak with community directly.
UNHCR: “The funny thing is, you base your views on their morals on the fact that they use pictures”
SAM: My campaigns do nothing with their morals or for personal problems. I made clear that I’m working to change some bad policies and procedures to improve the performance of the UNHCR. I’m not against using pictures to show the plight of the refugees but I’m against the Human-buttons and it represent very bad policy of the UNHCR not because it humiliating but more for one important fact that is: The UNHCR don’t have any right or need to ask for donation, I’ll speak more about this point in the future. I’m using pictures and the pictures are important to tell message. One picture is better than 1000 words. My campaign isn’t about pictures but it’s about the human-buttons and what it represents. I hope the UNHCR will use pictures of refugees in proper way so you and the others in the world will UNDERSTAND our problems before you feel sympathy for us as refugees.
UNHCR: “Remember that a majority of problems begin in countries with no solid foundation of governemnt...a nation still labelled as "developing". Therefore it wouldn't be wrong to say that these people are in poverty”
SAM: Article 1 of the Convention defines a refugee as "A person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution."
Like you can see, the definition didn’t mention poverty or the development degree of the governments. Even Americans could be refugees like the chess championship Fisher! Any human could be a refugee, even the milliners, but I agree with you that the millionaires don’t need the UNHCR. Maybe you don’t know that not only the UNHCR working to determine the status of refugee, mostly this done by governments. A person is a refugee whether or not a legal eligibility procedure has already recognized that status. Governments set up status-determination procedures, for the purposes of determining that person's legal standing and/or rights and benefits, in accordance with their own legal system. UNHCR offers its advice as part of the agency's mandate to promote refugee law, protect refugees, and supervise the implementation of the 1951 Convention. The agency advocates that governments adopt a rapid, flexible and liberal process, recognizing how difficult it often is to document persecution. I think the milliners are able to deal with governments directly without any help from the UNHCR. Please look here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3542276.stm
UNHCR: “And the fact that you haven't seen a cent of money from the UNHCR in 10 years, is a good thing. They're not there to provide you money. They're there to help you survive, and sometimes that means only the most basic of things.”
SAM: How they could help a refugee to survive when they only told him provide us with a phone number to contact you when we want! My friend, they don’t care if a refugee will survive or not, all what they care about is the number of the refugees that registered in the office and that help the UNHCR to ask for more money. What are the most basing things?! They didn’t provide the refugees whom need to visit the office of the UNHCR with drinkable water till I started my campaigns when they changed the office of the UNHCR in Beirut and they put small refrigerator to provide the refugees with drinkable water at year 2002 before that and since 1996 there wasn’t any resource fro drinkable water in the office of the UNHCR. The refugees used to buy drinkable water from a small cafeteria across the street, and the coast was $1 for 2 litters and not all the refugees were able to afford that amount! Things started to change after I started my campaigns, this is what we need, we need to show all the community how the UNHCR deals with refugees and I’m working on that, I’m happy with the changes I made in the office of the UNHCR in Beirut and I hope I’ll do more in the future.
UNHCR: “that's all the dignity a person needs. The will to survive, the courage to make it through”
SAM: Human beings naturally have the power and the will to survive, but the dignity is some thing different because it’s depends on many factors like traditions and cultures. Maybe some thing makes you to feel humiliated but it doesn’t the same for others. I don’t think there is any connection between dignity and the power that push a human being to survive, the animals have this power and naturally the animals are able to survive certain circumstances better than humans do. Do you think the dignity pushed the animals to survive?
I like to tell you small story I heard from some one just came from Iraq last week. He told us about an event happened in the area located to south of Baghdad where the terrorists killed the Shi’a just because they’re shi’a. they stopped a bus on the main rood and they told every to step no picture of Imam Ali the most beloved sacred religious man for the Shi’a to save their lives. Every one step on the picture only one old man was at last when he approached the picture he went down and kissed the picture and the terrorists cut his head and let the others to go.
Now do you think that all refugees are ready to reduce their dignity to survive? And why the refugees need to accept humiliation to survive? Why the refugees need to pay from their dignity to survive and to get help from the UNHCR? Isn’t there a decent way to ask fro donation better that using human-buttons?
UNHCR: “You talk mostly of money and people's pictures. Is this really something to worry about?”
SAM: they used these human-buttons to collect money, I spoke about that point and other points in my campaign. I have many campaigns since 2002, each campaign was about specific subject. I published my old campaigns in my ebook ‘My campaigns’ you can download and read it from my websites. Maybe you felt my last campaign was about money because these human-buttons are asking for money without any other message. I don’t understand what the humans whom been used on these human-buttons are telling us. Could you think if you see one of these human-buttons somewhere without any link to UNHCR or refugees that those women are refugees? Jut some women holding babies stand on buttons with text speak ‘click here to donate’, I asked people whom knew nothing about refugees and UNHCR and they didn’t understand what these human-buttons stand for! I believe strongly that people will stay donate via clicking on buttons without any pictures for humans on the buttons, I don’t see any link between the humans on the human-buttons and the refugees, I even have doubt that they’re refugees at all!
UNHCR: “You talk of the horrible conditions in camps and the lack of food. These camps are heavens to some of these people.”
SAM: who on earth thinks the camps of refugees are havens! Do you have been in one before? If it havens so why we don’t make camps everywhere and all of us live in camps. Just question, did you read about sex abuse in the camps of refugees in Africa by UN workers? My friends the camps used to isolate the refugees from the rest of the community where the camps are located and some time as prisons or kill grounds, did you hear about the camps in Australia? It’s sad to see how easy to mislead people!!!
Please look here: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticleprint/2005/04/def5e180-8d39-4c4f-84f3-4225aafb4042.html this is just one example and you can search for more.
UNHCR: “In regards to the picture taken 13 years ago: who cares about the age of the pictute?”
SAM: one thing sure about this point, the UNHCR don’t care about any thing accept collecting money! But there are more people do care about many other things and I’m one of them. Misleading is misleading what ever the excuse will be.
Finely, I just like to tell you that I have nothing against the UNHCR as organization but as I’m human being and a registered refugee found that I have some thing to speak publicly on the net as the freedom of speech meant and part of my mission to help improving our situation as refugees via improving the policies and procedures of the UNHCR. I’m using the Internet to speak and discuss many points with all people whom have interest about the subject I’m speaking about, like I’m doing now with you, you didn’t upset me and I hope we’ll continue this discussion if you like. I just like to know what you mean by “I'm a UNHCR activist”? could you please tell me more about that?
I like to publish your message on my blog http://unhcr.blogspot.com with your permission.
Thank you very much and I hope to hear from you soon.