A multimedia event on “Global Citizenship in a Time of War” was hosted by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC) in Vienna, Austria on September 27th, 2018.
BKMC CEO Monika Froehler delivered a powerful opening, linking her grandmother’s escape from war and subsequent refugee experience decades ago to the struggle faced by millions today.
Doaa Al Zamel and two other young women who have experienced refugee issues firsthand (Nour Barakeh and Suad Mohamed) shared their stories with the audience composed of representatives from media, politics, NGOs, and the business world.
Doaa began her talk by describing why her family had decided to escape from Syria: ”We were forced from our home when the Syrian War began tearing the city apart. After a bomb destroyed my father’s shop, we fled to Egypt, but soon faced persecution there, too.”
She went on to describe the treacherous boat journey: ”Left with little option, my fiancée and I decided to take the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Europe. I was just 19 years old at the time. The smugglers’ boat was crammed with more than 500 people, and after three days, it was rammed and sunk on purpose by another ship. The attackers yelled insults at us as the boat began to sink and people drown. I survived only by floating on a small inflatable ring.”
After detailing how the rescue of the 11 survivors had unfolded, Dooa described her subsequent move to Sweden, and appealed for strong action to end the fighting in Syria.
She also discussed the importance of reuniting families which have been ripped apart by the war. She described the pain of not seeing three of her own sisters for eight years, as they live in different countries and none has the legal right to travel.
Doaa’s participation in this “Global Citizenship in a Time of War” event marked the second time in as many months that she had experience with BKMC. At European Forum Alpbach, Doaa performed in a theater piece for the BKMC Board of Directors, gave an intervention for the BKMC-related panel on ‘Women and Youth Empowerment: The SDGs in Practice), and appeared with former UN SG Ban Ki-moon in an ORF Academy video on female empowerment.
The “Global Citizenship in a Time of War” event was coordinated by BKMC Program and Organizational Associate Julia Zimmerman.
BKMC is an independent nonprofit organization under Austrian law. The Centre was founded in 2017 and is co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General from 2007 – 2016, and by Heinz Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria from 2004 – 2016. It works within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals with an emphasis on empowering youth and women worldwide to thrive and act as global citizens.
As former UN SG Ban Ki-moon observes: “Working with and for young people and women is a priority. Half the world is women – and half the world is under 25 years of age. The generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known. We cannot afford to create a ‘lost generation’ of squandered talent and disenfranchised citizens.”