20th June was World Refugee Day, a UN-led initiative to celebrate, honour and raise awareness of global refugees.
The UNHCR recently announced that a record 100million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide and this comes at a time when major Western governments are pursuing populist policies to address the number of asylum seekers and refugees pursuing citizenship.
It also coincides with new waves of violence escalating the refugee crisis, whether through the war in Ukraine, the military coup in Myanmar, and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Seven Hills was honoured to work with One Young World Ambassador, Taban Shoresh, to amplify her voice discussing the refugee crisis and her own experiences as a refugee in the UK.
A former child genocide survivor, Taban Shoresh is founder of the Lotus Flower, a non-profit which provides safe, healing environments for women and girl conflict survivors in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. To date, the charity has supported more than 40,000 vulnerable women, girls and community members at its four centres, through livelihoods and skills training, business support, educational classes, mental health therapy and awareness and advocacy around women’s rights and gender-based violence.
With a political activist father during Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1980s Iraq, Taban was imprisoned with her family aged just four, and they narrowly escaped being buried alive in a mass grave before Amnesty International flew them to safety in the UK.
After growing up in the UK, Taban was horrified to see the ISIS attacks in her homeland in 2014. She gave up her successful City of London career and returned to Kurdistan as an aid worker – and within hours of her arrival was in a helicopter delivering aid to Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar. Back in the UK some 15 months later, she launched the Lotus Flower from her living room, with no funding. Today, the organisation runs runs programmes under three core pillars which align with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Education & Livelihoods, Health & Safety, and Human Rights & Peacebuilding.