The Refugee Council of Australia states that the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as:
"Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country."
This year's Refugee Week theme is "with courage let us all combine", taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem.
Many Australian's have firm views about refugees coming to Australia to live, but I think many of us have a lot of compassion for people who have been persecuted in their home country and it is a very real possibility that they or their family will come to harm. Even death.
It is with this compassion that we need to talk to our children about what it means to be a refugee. Talk to them about the things they have, the places they know, and the people they love. Imagine what it is like to lose all those things. What would you do? Picture books help young children imagine these things. The pictures and words are prompts for discussion too.
Of all the countries who are at war, and whose citizens flee for their lives, Syria is one that is often in the forefront of our minds. According to Save the Children, almost half of the 6.8 million Syrian refugees are children. That is a mind-blowing number! Think about their basic physical needs being met, health and medical needs, psychological needs, and their education. Children are growing up with war around them, and in refugee camps.
I really like the refugee books we have in stock. The BBC books are all written by child refugees in their own words! They are true stories. I remember reading Ali's Story to my son. We talked about the helicopters flying over the and bombs. We also imagined what it would be like to leave Mum and Dad behind, and miss them. These books are suitable for ages 7 and over. Teacup is suitable for ages 3 and over.
Will you talk to your children about refugees? What will you say?