Virtual Volunteering: Guest Writing

As part of our new Virtual Volunteering Programme we offer individuals, groups and organisations the opportunity to promote and raise awareness about their cause or a humanitarian crisis through our Guest Writing features.

When you sign up to become a Guest Writer for The Humanitarian Network  on our Virtual Volunteering Programme you have the opportunity to write your own segment on topics of your choice. Once written, you will collaborate with our team to bring your piece to life through design and creative with the chance of publishing it on our website, social media channels and having it sent to prominent stakeholders within the sector. What better way to collaborate, advocate, raise awareness about a pressing humanitarian issue, and simultaneously get your writing out there. Scroll below to read more about our amazing Guest Writers

Guest Writers

Hafsa Hayir

"Hi, my name is Hafsa Hayir. I am a lawyer and humanitarian from Stockholm. I feel very drawn to topics surrounding human rights, international humanitarian law and social justice. I believe that we all can change this world for the better if we keep advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves".

Click here to read and share Hafsa's piece on the Tigray crisis, or scroll below to read.

We are grateful to share that Hafsa's written piece continues to be amplified by key humanitarian groups in Ethiopia and around the world, as well as celebrities and high-profile philanthropists, helping us to raise awareness and inspire action regarding this ongoing crisis.

Read Hafsa's piece on the Tigray crisis.

Tigray - the region that was failed by the world

November 4th 2022 marked two years of conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The conflict, which has been depicted as one of the deadliest conflicts in the world, has deprived over 500,000 people of their lives, and internally displaced thousands of Tigrayans. Simultaneously, the Horn of Africa is going through one of the worst famines in 40 years. Several human rights organizations have expressed their concerns regarding the situation in Tigray, with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch releasing a 240 page long report in regards to the alleged human rights violations that are taking place in the region. However, it seemed to have little to no response from the international community as well as mainstream media. Why did this particular conflict not gain any attention from the world? Why did the international community stand by as hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives?

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has insinuated that the reason as to why the conflict in Tigray has not been given any attention, in comparison to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, is because the people of Tigray are black. Ghebreyesus stated that “…the world is not treating the human race the same way”. Other humanitarian crises in countries such as Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan have shown that people of colour are not being regarded the same as white people. With the EU and the UN openly condemning the actions of Russia, imposing sanctions and calling for Russia to lay down their arms, one cannot help but to wonder why the same repercussions were not called for against Ethiopia.

The general consensus is that human lives are to be respected by everyone and that humanitarian intervention is inevitable when human suffering is taking place. As a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and Protocol II to the same convention, Ethiopia is bound to obey the principles that guide and direct humanitarian action during an armed conflict. Common article 3 in the 1949 Geneva Conventions states that persons who are not active in the conflict must be treated humanely and that an “…impartial humanitarian body…” should be able to deliver humanitarian aid without any restrictions. As of today, approximately 13 million people in Tigray, as well as in nearby regions, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.. 

All sides in the conflict must adhere to international humanitarian law, to ensure the safety of vulnerable people and to make sure that homes, schools, hospitals and other civilian sites are not a target. We need to make sure that escalating hostilities do not prevent humanitarian aid from reaching those in need. There is no doubt that there is a lot to be done for the people of Tigray, but as a start we must make sure that all conflicts around the world should be given the same attention, and countries that are not respecting international humanitarian law are reprimanded in the same way.  

Hafsa Hayir - Guest Writer, The Humanitarian Network.
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Miguel Bermudez

"Hello, my name is Miguel Bermudez. I am an immigrant from Venezuela, now living in the United States. I am studying International and Global Studies with a minor in Humanities and Cultural Studies. I am passionate about cultural empathy and preservation. I am very interested in the way people treat others and how we are able to change narratives and history through our collective voices and actions. My goal is to make people feel seen, heard, and accepted."

Click here to read and share Miguel's piece on shifting the narrative around immigration, or scroll below to read the full piece.

We are thrilled to share that Refugee Week, the world's largest arts and culture organisation celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary, has inspired one of their latest initiatives on Miguel's written piece with us at The Humanitarian Network! Click here to read.

Read Miguel's full piece on shifting narratives around immigration.

Shifting Narratives: Removing “illegal” from the word Immigrant

The world has failed immigrants and refugees. The conversation around the interchange of culture and traditions in the past couple of years has shifted into an ugly and violent discussion, especially against those who have been historically marginalised. A study made by the Migration Observatory concluded that “illegal” is the most common descriptor for immigrants across all newspapers in the United Kingdom. Although no human being is illegal, this dangerous description can create real, threatening, and terrorising circumstances towards immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers all over the world. As a result, this generates a more apathetic, and intolerant community towards a population that most of the time is searching, desperately, for a second chance at life.

Months ago, a professor told me “Everyone has an immigration story,” and whether that would be directly or indirectly, it is quite true. I invite you all to wonder, where does your story begin? Our immigration stories do not start with us, but with our ancestors and the generations behind us. Even if your great-grandparents or grandparents moved from one state to another, or your great-great-grandparents were displaced from their home. That is migration, a normal process in life, that sometimes is born from the most horrible situations: humanitarian crisis, wars, economic hardships, displacement, or persecution.

Through history we have learned that migrants everywhere have had to assimilate and adapt to their new home. Assimilation is the process by which a racial or ethnic minority loses its distinctive identity and conforms to the cultural patterns of the dominant group. It can be a double-edged sword. A tool used by immigrants that must go into survival mode, which can mean leaving their roots, culture, and unique perspectives behind. As Victoria Benefield—a student at Northwestern University—so eloquently puts it, “Assimilation was simultaneously a survival technique and an act of rebellion, a way to fight back against the racial stereotypes.” But assimilation rewards sameness, and it works to limit alternative perspectives. There is a tragedy in assimilation, it is a grieving process passed down generation through generation. Ending in what could be generational trauma, denigration of self and culture, toleration of oppression, and internalised colonisation.

It is not lost on me that currently, many cultures—especially minority cultures—are declining at a fast rate. Bringing a devastating loss to humanity. Cultures convey a deep knowledge and understanding of humankind. They carry history and a unique human perspective that once lost cannot be replaced or recreated again. Cultural knowledge and humility are essential to start the inner work to become more empathetic, aware, and compassionate towards others. Gaining self-awareness about our own biases, privileges, and beliefs, while educating ourselves about the history of marginalised groups, focusing on self-reflection, and recognising the shifting nature of intersecting identities are needed steps to change the horrible narrative around immigration, refugees, and their use as political pawns within far-right media.

My story begins generations ago. My family is a family of immigrants, from Ukraine, Spain, Venezuela, and now the United States. My work helping Venezuelan immigrants and asylum seekers—through an NGO called Humanitarian Action—is grounded in the belief that every human has the right to seek refuge and deserves freedom to be who they are, unapologetically. To quote one of my favorite activists, Alok Vaid-Menon, a trans non-binary poet, “For too long the focus has been on comprehension and not compassion.”

Immigrants deserve empathy and gentleness as the process of leaving your home is difficult. And yet, if asked to do it over, many of us would make that painful decision again.

Miguel Bermudez - Guest Writer, The Humanitarian Network.
Click here to share the post on social media.


Baharak Bashmani

"Hi, my name is Baharak Bashmani and I have been a nomad since an early age. I have lived and worked in 7 countries, expanding over 3 continents. I am the creator of the blog Rooted in B, where I discuss and ponder about all things related to identity, the notions of home, human rights and more. These topics are close to my heart and all link together. I truly believe that we are all capable of making changes to the injustices we see around us. And when we unite our voices, together we can galvanise lasting changes."

Click here to read and share Baharak's piece via social media, or scroll below to the full piece. 

Read Baharak's full piece on 'the invisible people of the world'.

Stateless People – The invisible people of the world

The right to nationality is encoded in international law yet there are currently over 5 million stateless people in the world (UNHCR). This is just an estimate and the true numbers are believed to be higher. Statelessness is defined as “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms it means the person has no nationality.

Without nationality a person may not attend school, access healthcare, get a job, open a bank account, travel, or even get married. People usually acquire their nationality automatically at birth, either through their parents or through their country of birth. But there are scenarios where a person may be born stateless or become stateless. Some causes of statelessness are discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, language or gender.

Gender discrimination is a major reason for childhood statelessness. There are currently 24 countries where women cannot pass on their nationality to their children. This results in children becoming stateless when their fathers are stateless, unknown, missing, or deceased. Additionally, when people move between countries and have a child in a foreign country, the child could be at risk of becoming stateless if the country of birth does not allow nationality based on place of birth alone, and the country of origin does not allow parents to pass on their nationality because the child is born abroad.

Despite four specific articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights advocating for nationality rights, these universally agreed upon laws are often disregarded and as a result, millions of vulnerable people suffer the consequences.

The Rohingya are one of the largest groups of people who are stateless. They are Muslim minority group who lived in Burma/Myanmar, but do not qualify for citizenship under its laws. Roma groups around Europe are another example of ethnic and cultural groups of people who have been persecuted and are often stateless. Many refugees and displaced people may become stateless due to issues around registrations.

Like most issues that don’t affect us directly, it is often easier to see statelessness as a faraway problem; not something for us to worry about as there is nothing we can do, and it is happening on the other side of the world. But Europe is not immune to the plight of stateless people. There are currently over half a million stateless people in Europe (European Network on Statelessness). People who could be contributing to the societies they belong to but are unable to due to their status.

Using our united voice, we can effect change to uphold our human-centered values.

Statelessness can be eradicated by simple changes in law such as universal birth certificates and increased access to citizenship. It is a moral, ethical and economic imperative to eliminate statelessness.

Baharak Bashmani - Guest Writer, The Humanitarian Network.

Click here to keep an eye on our socials for when Baharak's piece is published.


Join us!

Do you have a passion for writing? Want to make a difference and help raise awareness by educating the public on a specific humanitarian crisis? Whether you're an individual, group or organisation, sign up to become a Guest Writer for The Humanitarian Network  on our Virtual Volunteering Programme and have the opportunity to write your own segment on topics of your choice and / or cause.