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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Globalism:Refugee and Diaspora: Human Movement and its Consequences

Etin-Osa Felix Umweni.


Who is a refugee? In what ways are the predicaments or experiences of refugees synonymous with those of persons in the Diaspora? These questions are not only pertinent, but also revealing. Critical responses to these questions will no doubt unveil the consequences of human movement in the past and present, and presumably in the future.
A refugee is a person constrained by social or political circumstances or prevailing in his own country to migrate to a foreign land to seek shelter. A refugee is thus an unfortunate person harassed, if not molested, by situation, which he is naturally unable to remedy.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in different corners of the world are forced from the safety of their homes and compelled to take flight across regions and continents. Direct threats to personal security and other forms of violence oblige individuals, families and entire communities to gather what they can of their own belongings-if any-and depart for uncertain destinations.
Some of these people are able to take shelter with family or friends. Others congregate in camps where they hope to find safety, food and shelter. Still, others hide in forests, jungles and other unpalatable terrain, too fearful to seek assistance of any kind. The journey is often difficult and dangerous. And untold number of people is a victim of violence and disease along the way.
In some cases, people move to a neighbouring village for a short period until the fighting that caused their displacement has subsided. In still other cases, chronic or large-scale insecurity compels people to make a dramatic and permanent move, to a camp at some distance from their home or to the outskirts of a metropolitan centre. In some cases, people are simply dispersed, fleeing without a trace and left to fend for themselves.
Diaspora on the other hand, means a widespread dispersion or migration of people. It will not be complete to discuss Diaspora without a mention of the slave trade. The bulk of blacks of African origin in America today are a product of the slave trade.
Those in the Diaspora cum Refugees suffer similar social, cultural and economic problems. They are socially discriminated upon, culturally isolated and economically downgraded, except that the effect differs in comparison-those in the Diaspora to those in refugee.
These people needs assistance-thanks to the works of the U.N.O and other international and government bodies providing assistance for these displaced persons. This write up therefore, sought to cover a wide range of themes: from a re-evaluation of the historical evaluation of Diaspora cum refugee in the pre and post war periods to functions of U.N.O and the way forward-bordering on current social, political issues and its effect on the economy. The meeting point of refugee and Diaspora under social, cultural and economic realities of today.
This paper therefore, borrows from history to discuss the present and project into the future

Presenters

Etin-Osa Felix Umweni  (Gambia)
Lecturer, Literature English and English language
Department of English
St. Augustine’s College.

Born in Nigeria-Edo State in the year 1968.Attended Adolo College and ohordua Secondary School between 1978and1985.I worked as a clerical officer with Guinness Nigeria plc.I obtain a B.A degree in Theatre Arts, from the University of Benin, Benin City in 1995.I worked as teacher in Ogbonmwan Grouped of Schools between 1998and1999.I left Nigeria to the Gambia in 1999 and worked at Kaur Senior Secondary School as a teacher. Currently , I am with St, Augustine’s College as a Lecturer.

Keywords
  • Refugees
  • Diaspora



(30 min Conference Paper, English)