Proclaiming freedom: free to be included
Enjoying rights and freedoms, including access to basic services such as healthcare and education, is a challenge in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and even more so during the pandemic. In a region characterised by economic crisis and ethnic and religious division, life for many minorities – including refugees – has never been tougher.
“I just want my children to have their rights.” These are the words of a Syrian refugee mother who spoke on the SAT-7 ARABIC program You Are Not Alone. Her children faced so much discrimination at school in Lebanon, she says, that they begged her not to attend when schools reopened earlier this year.
Already pushed to the margins and vulnerable to human rights violations, refugees and members of minorities are now feeling the effects of additional tension and instability in society caused by the pandemic. In refugee camps, access to hygiene measures and social distancing can be virtually impossible, threatening the health of those sheltering there. And during lockdowns, female migrant workers, who experience multidimensional discrimination, were subject to particularly egregious treatment. Some were abandoned on the streets with nothing and nowhere to go or imprisoned in the home of their employer.
By offering a platform for all voices, including those of refugees and minority groups, SAT-7 seeks to increase awareness of these issues and to encourage acceptance and understanding of the innate, God-given value of every person.
SAT-7 ARABIC’s recent current events programs, including the magazine show A Way for Tomorrow, aim to tackle specific subjects that affect minorities, including by allowing marginalised youth to share their struggles and worries on air. Meanwhile, the drama Backstage helps build understanding through creative storylines, such as one which shows a Sudanese immigrant struggling for acceptance and equality while living and working in Egypt. These stories aim to help viewers from across the region to appreciate those who are different from them, helping over time to ensure members of minorities are granted the rights to which they are entitled.
SAT-7 programs also help meet the needs of refugees who are denied access to services, including by providing health and hygiene information and a primary education curriculum, My School, for children whose education has been disrupted.