If only all the refugees looked like celebrities

I thought I would be writing something cynical today about how all the hype and focus on refugees for just one day of the year wasn't going to make much of a difference, but after scanning the major news media and not finding a single top headline about refugees, I realized I'd have to write something about them being ignored 365 days instead of just 364.

Apparently, even having celebrities having refugee children isn't enough to get them much attention.

Which is too bad for the nine million people, the majority of them children, with no safe place to go.

Amnesty International has a good list of the facts behind the refugee statistics and AlertNet points out that one of the main reasons girls in these refugee camps don't go to school isn't just ideological, it's practical: no separate bathrooms, no female teachers, and no means to get the required school clothes.

Perhaps part of the problem is that talking about refugees requires us to talk about Palestine and Darfur. It requires talking about solutions that include either, ideally, repatriation into their countries of origin if they are safe enough, integration into whatever country they are in, or asylum and resettlement to a third country. Ironically, it is often other very poor countries that are most likely to offer asylum. Last year, the U.S. took in 54,800 refugees. Given our own problems resettling New Orleans residents, and the hysteria over immigration, I wonder if the numbers for 2006 will be even less.

Nike is doing its part, it says, by sending refugees 40,000 footballs. Perhaps we can send them some fashion designers as well and then refugees will start getting the attention they need, and maybe even some toilets.

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