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The U.N. declared access to information as a basic human right. The goal is to ensure everyone globally is on equal footing with what they know. However, this has not been the case for refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers. Information is a privilege that is far beyond their reach. As such, they are faced with a three-fold problem. Accessing, learning, and applying the information they need.

Refugees come from backgrounds that are characterized by war and poverty. In escaping from these harsh conditions, no planning is undertaken. They can’t research the places where they can safely seek refuge legally. Reliance is based mainly on secondary sources of information. Their credibility is untested, which tends to leave refugees in undesirable situations. The increase in refugees within camps is overwhelming most host countries. Consequently, some are bounced from camp to camp. In some cases, families are split up with no means of contact. The process of reunification is hard and very lengthy.

During this time, language barriers and a lack of identity documents make the process difficult for both sides. Another challenge is access to communication mediums. Refugees have no electronic gadgets that allow them to access the internet or even make calls. They are left helpless, relying on aid from non-profit organizations, donors, and fellow countrymen. While their assistance is commendable, there is more that can be done.

In some host countries, refugees face severe harassment, eviction, confiscation of belongings, extortion, exploitation of labor, and unfair wages. Swift action must be taken globally to address rampant abuses of refugee rights. In the interim, a clear dialogue must be established. Active participation by refugees is the first step to solving the problem. Dialogue objectives must center on safeguarding both parties’ interests. A mutual give-and-take is key to progress. Compromise and negotiation should be implemented. Access to information through secure and reliable channels will change the refugee narrative.

Information empowers refugees with options on what to do and how to do it resulting in solid decision-making. This leads to regular migration patterns and a smooth transition to their desired host country.

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