Award winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, made a powerful speech about the plight of refugees, calling it “the moral imperative of our time” to do more to help.
“There might not be enough room for everyone but there is certainly room to do more,” she said.
“We can create room for people, and today in this world that has been scarred by so much suffering creating room for people is not only doable but a moral imperative.”
Drawing on personal experience Adichie spoke of her parents who were ‘refugees for three years’ as a result of the 1967 Nigeria-Biafra war. She noted an incident where her family sought refuge at a house already filled with people.
Despite being overstretched the owner of the house ‘made room’ for the family.
“I think often of that moment,” Adichie said. “Because I wonder if my parents would have survived the war had they not benefited from that act of kindness.”
Her speech on World Humanitarian Day came just days after the world was shocked by the image of a dazed and bloodied Omran Daqneesh. The image of the 5 year old Syrian boy reverberated around the world, becoming the new face of the brutal civil war that has raged for 5 years.
She also called on attendees to consider their perception of refugees: “Nobody is ever just a refugee. Nobody is ever just a single thing,” she said. “We dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing and this dehumanization is insidious and unconscious.”