Developing Countries bear the burden of Refugees

Published Date:   Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015

A  new report  entitled ‘The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Neglect’ (2015) by the Amnesty International reveals that about 50 million people were displaced from their homes due to civil war, sectarian violence, armed conflicts, grave human rights violations and persecution of hapless minorities in the various parts of globe. It is very important to note that 86 percent of refugees are being hosted by the developing countries. For example, Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan are hosting more than one million refugees.  They have been voicing for the resettlement of refugees elsewhere as they have been over burdened. But, the international community has been a mute spectator to the frequent appeals of these countries.

Under such circumstances, the host countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan brought in strict measures and conditions for the entry of growing Syrian refugees. Being left with few options, they started escaping by boat to North Africa and finally to Southern Europe by crossing Mediterranean Sea. By embarking upon an illicit boat journey, they faced untold miseries because of overcrowding and unsafe measures. The Report estimated that more than 1,000 Syrian refugees’ people died in the space of ten days while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in April 2015.

Initially, the Italian navy was assisting them to reach ashore safely. However, the European Union decided to end the operation later as it was encouraging more refugees to flee through the same ways and means. Some countries have been indifferent to the plight of fleeing refugees.

To cite an example, recently, the countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia of Southeast Asian region pushed back the boats into sea by citing security concerns when the refugees from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh tried to enter.  After the international outcry over this attitude, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia accepted them on the condition of resettlement within one year. In addition to this, the report mentions that in the light of funds-crunch, the diverse programmes of UNHCR have been underfunded and facing the risk of rolling back.  In general, the response of the international community has been lukewarm in redressing the humanitarian crisis so far. The commitments to annual refugee resettlement programme by the countries have been dismal.

The report shows that nearly one million refugees need to be resettled. But the annual resettlement commitments are less than a tenth of this number.  Moreover, the report reveals that only around 30 countries are coming forward to refugee resettlement   even though 145 countries have ratified the United Nations Refugee convention. Further, in light of inadequate international support and paucity of funds, the international bodies like UNHCR have been staggering with multiple issues to cope with.

Report by M. Mahalingam

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