June 20th is World Refugee Day and all around the world UN agencies and partner organisations are shining a spotlight onto the lives of refugees.
I am Rokia Traore, a Malian singer, songwriter and perfomer and I have come to Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency to listen to the stories of the Malian refugees who fled their country after a conflict in the North erupted back in early 2012. There are over 34,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso – most of whom fled from northern Mali.
Being involved with the UN Refugee Agency feels simply like the right thing to do - to have an opportunity to shine a spotlight and help in whatever way I can is a natural reaction that all humankind has for each other.
What makes this particular situation so right is that Mali is my home and I too have felt the impact of this crisis which forced me to also change my life – though not to the extent of the refugees. I remember listening to singers when I was performing with Africa Express in Manchester and the song went “When will I go back home” and being in tears as at that time I didn’t know if it would ever be possible to build my dreams as I imagined them before the crisis.
It feels like am about to visit relatives who are in some sort of trouble –I find it unbearable to know the ongoing misery that affects so many of my people. I want to hear what people have to say and learn about what has happened to them and try to show that we are all one. I want to try to bring their voices to decision makers who can change their lives…