Becoming director of global communications for Unicef, Paloma Escudero left Spain four years ago for New York. She is one of the Spanish nationals who has reached a higher status in the UN. It was not easy arriving to the USA: with her there were three children of school age and a husband who has to make a living. She travels a lot to conflict countries, 14 per year to be exact; and he is dedicated to the marketing of alcohol, travels to pubs in the United States. They take turns. This woman makes miracles to balance work and family life but in her home, everyone understands her. When she returns for a trip they know that mom returns from war:
“I do not believe in bravery in abstract. Courage gives you purpose. Our team in Aleppo survives in a bunker since a year ago but its purpose is to accompany children every day not to lose their school, which is usually at underground”.
Today than ever before there is an attack against civilians. There is impunity as ever before we’ve seen. International humanitarian law turned water plants, schools, hospitals, roads out of the population in sanctuaries. That is over. Making a city under siege, the first thing to attack is water supplies. Officially it respected, but it is not. This has many frightening consequences. Once aid workers had their free halls, their areas of respite. Today they are as targets as civilians.
The huge test of our times is the reception of refugees and in Europe is being suspended. A million refugees for Europe with more than 320 million people living there, it’s not a crisis at all. Instead we have passed this into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. And now we witness those countries being overloaded by refugees living there in poor conditions for too long and without any actual hope. Thus, right now those who are fleeing are passing by because they know that if they stay on those camps there they will remain stagnant. Turkey have welcomed two million refugees since five years ago. That’s a real crisis.
Canada is our example: It’s an open population as well as a government which applies asylum law currently. As for Germany, it must be said that he is doing the right thing.
Spain is a transit country for refugees. They do not think staying with us. Still, communities could have had more initiatives. At the end of the day, who must be prepared and organized to receive refugees are citizens.
-The Child trafficking is one of the greatest threats. The trip through teenagers do after Nigeria and Libya to reach Italy is frightening. 100% reported having suffered sexual or labor exploitation. We try to protect them, identify them and speak to the Italian government so they can reside in a reception center.
My job requires to be realistic, never naif, not to believe that everyone is good and there is a range of grays. But the truth is that we are better than 20 years ago has reduced infant mortality by half and that is a reason for hope. Violence also occurs in fewer, albeit, sadly, more acute.
“What we are desperate frozen conflicts. The brutality of the war in Syria compels us to work for mere survival. We try to ensure some normalcy in their lives, but it is almost impossible”.
‘What worries me most, perhaps because of my womanhood, they are adolescent girls. And I am moved to see how these creatures who have suffered extreme situations found an inner strength to overcome their trauma. They have a maturity: speak openly about sexual violence, defend education. Some become bloggers for Unicef. You should see the things that count in networks Somali girls. They are admirable.
“No need to be in an NGO to do good works. No need to be voluntary; I always say that goodness is available to anyone in everyday acts, in any form, in any opportunity”.
“I’m an adventuress. Experience tells me that in a place of conflict we must go respectfully, not ostentatious. When we are in the going, we are with not much protection, but we learn to move quietly; in my case, because I’m white person, among other reasons. Safety is adaptation. If you are reckless you endanger your teammates”.
-The Mothers are admirable and courageous. You see them get on a raft, at night, carrying two kids. What other choice do they have? To die in Syria? Or coming from Afghanistan with their children, what can they do? People flee from something very serious and Europe, we need to know that it is not their first choice. They come here because they have no choice.
I´m worry not just for Trump. It is Europe too. We live in fear, fear of different fed by the media and politicians. 80% of Hungarians want to build a wall. By God, we are talking about the heart of Europe! The parallel with the 30s is huge. It seems to lie with the experience of the twentieth century.
My husband often says Paloma saves the world and I pay the mortgage (laughs). It is fortunate that we do not work in the same. It is more relaxed. We met in private enterprise and that’s where I really learned communication strategy that now apply, although I always attracted volunteerism. I started at 18 in the neighborhood of San Blas, with gypsies, while doing the race.
My 10 year old son told me yesterday something touching: “Mom, when Syria’s war finish will you be out of work?”
“What else I wanted, my son,” his mother replied, “that stay forever unemployed”.