The Brothers Campaign
The Brothers Campaign is a project close to the heart of Refugee Biriyani & Bananas (RBB). The Brothers Campaign aims to raise awareness about the stigmas and biases against male displaced persons and inequalities in aid delivery to this population. This includes boys and men, both single or in family units, as well as unaccompanied minors, who are displaced in camps, squats and other unstable settlements or acute crisis zones.
Meet some of the brothers living in the refugee camps. They are from :
This campaign has been ongoing since mid-2017, when Ruhi first recognized the gaps in aid-distributions and support for the male population who are displaced. She noticed that not only were donors and supporters less likely to offer help towards this group of people, but humanitarian aid workers and volunteers within the field were prioritising aid initiatives for women and children. While a noble and necessary focus, this meant male asylum seekers were largely neglected.
Ruhi has since established a system that works to include members of this population in the decision-making process, sorting/packing and distribution of aid. Through collaboration with our partner organisations and volunteers in the field, RBB works to provide aid fairly and in a dignified manner to all.
RBB’s most recent drive for The Brothers Campaign is a push for advocacy, as we have recognised the severity of the situation for young men and unaccompanied male minors who are displaced. This includes raising awareness on the human rights of the male population seeking safety, and defending their dignity. The focus of aid delivery is on the men who fall through the gaps; typically viewed as economic migrants, rather than refugees or asylum seekers, or deemed not as vulnerable and denied services and support.
Mental health issues, self harm, and suicidal ideations are rife within this community. Male displaced people are often those who are travelling
alone without family and face increased struggles as a displaced person. They are also those who are more likely to be rejected on their asylum claims and face incarceration when they have committed no crime.
Therefore, RBB has also been involved in providing aid and support for displaced people (majority males) who have been detained in prison and detention centres. They are usually there for rejections on their asylum claims and at risk of deportation, or they are those who have faced an unfair trial when committing no or minor crimes and unjustly face long periods of imprisonment in dire conditions. This has become known within the team as The Prison Run and involves providing – under somewhat more challenging conditions – clothes, hygiene products, phone cards (their only form of communication with family and lawyers), medical support, and trying to ensure legal provisions are available.
RBB has led aid delivery distributions specifically for men and boys on the Greek Islands of Chios and Samos, at the Belgrade Barracks in Serbia, and in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Otherwise, when planning aid distributions RBB aims to cover all who need help, including single men, who can sometimes be left behind when support systems tend to focus on families.
RBB is currently based on the Greek Island of Chios. There has been a rapid escalation of crises for displaced people on the island due to changing political stances between Turkey and Greece, the lack of support from other countries, the coronavirus pandemic, and a camp five times over its capacity. Thousands of people have been stranded in tents, make-shift shelters, or nothing. Due to the immediate danger asylum seekers on Chios face, they need our support now more than now ever. Whilst some of our sister organisations on the island support females and children, we have decided to focus on providing for the men and older male children in camp who also deserve our care.
Vathy Refugee Camp, Samos Island.
Our goal is to provide equitable distributions of aid where the brothers in camp are not missed out. For example, when we provide food packs we plan to provide it for all the residents residing in the refugee camp or unstable settlement. Otherwise, when operating in an area where partner organisations are already providing support for the women and children, and there is limited, or no support available for the male population, we organisation specific distributions to fill gaps in care and provide a fairer opportunity for all to receive urgent aid and basic necessities.
We are interested in communicating with other support initiatives who would like to work with us on The Brothers Campaign. Additionally, we are particularly keen to speak to any media outlets who may want to help us raise awareness of this forgotten population and advocate for them.
The Brothers Campaign 2019 Large Aid Distributions Included:
725 pairs of shorts and t-shirts for the brothers in Vial Camp, Chios.
3750 hygiene packs for the brothers in Vial Camp, Chios during summer and winter.
1450 clothes packs including a t-shirt, jumper, pair of trousers, underwear and socks for the brothers in Vathy Camp, Samos.
600 pairs of winter shoes for the brothers in Vucjak Camp on the Bosnia Herzogovina - Croatian border.
2800 pairs of winter shoes were provided for the brothers in Vial Camp, Chios.
2800 winter jackets, jumpers, trousers and socks were provided the brothers in Vial Camp, Chios.