The Kosovo crisis has created an extremely precarious situation for ethnic Hungarians who live in Vojvodina, the northern portion of Serbia on the border of Hungary. And the danger comes from both NATO bombs and the hostility of Serb citizens who resent ethnic Hungarians because it is "their" NATO planes that are bombarding the Serb homeland.
On the broad track of rock and dirt that runs through Cegrane, the largest refugee camp in Macedonia, a woman labors to push a wheelchair carrying a young boy with cerebral palsy. Nearby two young men join arms to form a human litter on which perches an old woman who is unable to walk. They are the vulnerable among the vulnerable.
Amid poverty, war and, occasionally, massacre, the Presbyterians in the town of Polhó in Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas are singing for their lives. The language of the Tzotzil Maya has a special lyrical quality. Sentences float like melodies in dialogue, rising and falling so that one speaker's tones spill over into the responses of the next.
Fernando did not look like what I thought a refugee should look like. He was fat, for one thing. The beige polyester suit he wore was tight on him, especially around the belly. He reeked of cologne. He had one gold front tooth and around his neck was a matching gold chain. The pendant dangling from the chain appeared to be a phallus.
In the movie District 9, an alien spaceship stalls in the skies above Johannesburg. After three months with no communication, South Africans decide to board the ship, only to find a million aliens who need rescuing. They move them to District 9, an area that’s a cross between a township and a refugee camp.
In the fall of 2006, when Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester, New York, began welcoming refugees from Burma, we had no idea what we were getting into. In the spring of 2007 there were 30 refugees from Burma in Rochester; by 2007 there were 200, and by now there are almost 400, with many more expected. Rochester is a microcosm of what is happening quietly across this continent and in many other nations.
One of the lesser-known calamities of the Iraq war is the flood of refugees it has produced. According to United Nations officials, about 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since the start of the war—mostly to Jordan and Syria—and almost as many Iraqis have been displaced inside their own country.
A handful of the “lost boys of Sudan”—the 26,000 children who fled civil war on foot—are on the big screen endearing themselves to American audiences. Four thousand were delivered from a United Nations refugee camp to various communities in the U.S. in 2001. A few of them are the subjects of a just-released National Geographic documentary, God Grew Tired of Us.