Social media can highlight refugees’ plight, conference told

Sharjah: Using social media to create awareness of social issues was brought to focus on the second day of the ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA 2018) conference, in Sharjah.

The first panel discussion titled ‘Youth, Social Media and Creating Positive Change,’ which was organised in partnership with UNHCR, focused on the role of social media influencers when it comes to highlighting the plight of refugees.

Zainab Eqabi, motivational speaker and social media influencer, referred to her first UNHCR mission to the UK, pointing out she was disturbed by the difficult family situations she witnessed.

“People are getting used to refugees,” she said. “But it is an important social story that needs to be shared; I tried to raise awareness of the daily struggles facing refugees through social media.”

Fellow panellist journalist Chaker Khazaal and social media activist echoed Eqabi’s comments. A refugee himself, he left Lebanon and moved to Canada, before moving to the US. Khazaal explained how many of his social media followers in the West did not even understand what a refugee was. As a journalist, he is now able to educate them and highlight “their humanity” and present them to his audience as human beings, people not to be feared.

“Anyone at any time can become a refugee,” he said.

“We have a lot of suffering in the world,” Khazaal added. “As many as 68.5 million people are currently displaced in the world; this shouldn’t be the case.”

The positive outcome that results in creating awareness through social media fundamentally allows for refugees and the most needy people in society to get the help they desperately need.

Also speaking about his recent aid visit to a refugee camp in Bangladesh, Dr Ahmad Abu Malek, who is promoting health awareness spoke about how, in the poorest of areas, there are 1.4 million inhabitants in just one camp.

“They had no health care, no education. The situation was bad. How do you keep people well when they have nothing? Sharing details of conditions such as this via social media not just allows for greater exposure but also fund-raising efforts,” he said.


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