Around 600 Ukrainian refugees have made their way to NSW so far, most of them women and children. They've been welcomed with an outpouring of support, according to an ABC News report.
It's interesting to consider these numbers, which will surely increase, in the light of the number of refugees seeking asylum from so many war-torn countries in the world.
Some other statistics, from the Australian Red Cross, are telling:
- in the past decade, the number of people displaced from their homes worldwide has almost doubled, from 41 million to 79.5 million, and
- more than two-thirds of the top 5 nationalities of people seeking refuge in Australia - up until the outbreak of war in Ukraine - came from just five countries:
Syrian Arab Republic (6.6 million)
Venezuela (3.7 million)
Afghanistan (2.7 million)
South Sudan (2.2 million)
Myanmar (1.1 million).
For example, to break down one of those figures, according to the UNHCR less than 145,000 Venezuelans have received refugee status, almost 800,000 have asylum claims pending, and another 2.5 million have received temporary residency permits since 2014.
It's sobering to consider how long the queue is and which individuals from among which nationalities may be given special consideration and with what justification by Departments of Home Affairs.
On a more personal note, SSOA emerging writer Clara Andrade responded to this week's prompt with a story focussed on peace ...
There is finally a gap between all the people walking into an RSL club in Sydney, where Sasha and I are encouraging members to use the newly installed marketing rewards machines.
We both work as brand ambassadors for the same marketing agency and I’ve met her for the first time today. I feel unsure of what to talk about with her. So I say, ‘I’m part of this women’s group, it’s called Creators of Peace.’
‘Oh?’ Sasha seems to think I’m a little cuckoo. ‘What do you do?’
‘Well, we sit around and talk about leading more peaceful lives. In our own lives and the world around us.'
‘That sounds … interesting,’ she says, without judgment, but in a higher pitched tone of voice than she was using before.
‘It is, actually. I discovered a bunch of interesting things about myself and about other people’s lives. Everyone in the group gets to share a life story .’
‘Has it made you more peaceful?’ she asks me, quite curious by now.
‘Probably, overall, it’s just made me more aware of the things I used to do that stopped me from acting in a more peaceful way.’
Our conversation pauses as a 70-year-old walks in and we step forward to do the job we’re being paid to do for the day.
‘Hello, sir. If you’re a member you can use the machine for a chance to win a free drink!’ I say in my best customer service voice.
‘That’s all I get? A free drink? I probably won’t win anyway, I’m not very lucky. My friend Ruth tried it and said they wouldn’t even take her ticket at the counter!’ the man said, shaking his RSL member card in the air. He walks away from us.
Sasha patiently smiles at the customer and waves as he walks away. Me? I feel glad I can talk more about Creators of Peace.
‘If you’re interested you can join a gathering. There’s one in a few weeks’ time.’ I always feel like I'm trying to recruit people to a cult when inviting them to these activities.
‘For sure, I’d be interested. I’d like to meet some new people,’ Sasha replies with a smile.
‘How long have you been living in Australia?’ I ask her.
‘My husband and I have been here six months or so?’
‘And how are you liking this job?’ I ask.
‘It’s okay. I meet people, practice my English, and it’s fun,’ Sasha replies.
‘What did you do back home in Ukraine?’
‘I’m an aerospace engineer. But it’s hard to find work as an engineer here in Australia.’
‘Well, I’m glad you took this job,' I reassure her. 'It means I got to meet you.’
text Clara Andrade; photos Wix.