( A shameful read of twenty minutes)
One of this century’s greatest tragedies.
This is an issue that is long on rhetoric, as newspaper and TV news reports testify. The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict and war continues to increase at a staggering rate and will soon be overshadow by Global warming climate change migration.
This post attempts to look at where we have been, and where we are likely to go, in coping with this worlds endless stream of refugees. The refugee problems and crises are far from over and will continue to require urgent international cooperative treatment.
Half of all current refugees have been displaced for over ten years.
At the moment most displaced people stay in their own country this will not be so with climate change.
We all know what causes refugee displacements and asylum flows, but the effects of conflict, political upheaval and economic incentives to migrate, are going to be dwarfed by climate migration.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 217A (III), on the 10 December 1948 will be out of date.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
This may well represents the first global international expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled but Artificial Intelligence, and technology combined with global warming is going to create a different kind of refugee or migrant.
The right to life is humanity’s most fundamental value.
More than 65 million people are today, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees, illegal immigrants, to put a label on them.
The distinction between an economic migrant and a refugee is simple:
Are you running from or to? all are escaping.
Half of the world’s refugees are children under 18 years of age. The average length of time a refugee spends in exile is about 20 years, which is more than an entire childhood, and represents a significant portion of a person’s productive working years.
So let’s try to comprehend ( not that it is possible to do so with written or spoken words) what refugees have to face.
What is a camp? What characterizes a camp and how camps affect the lives of those who are placed in them.
On a global scale, millions of refugees are contained in camps of one sort or another.
Life goes on in camps—albeit a life that is affected by the camp.
They are places where the depoliticization of life takes place, due to humanitarian government, paradoxically they also produces a hyper-politicized space where nothing is taken for granted and everything is contested.
They are places of social dissolution, of new beginnings where sociability is remolded in new ways.
They are places with little or no human rights, dignity strippers, with no education, they are terrorist recruitment centers.
Camps are defined along two dimensions: spatially and temporally.
Temporally, refugee camps are meant to be temporary, while in practice this temporariness are becoming permanent.
Temporary are legal anomalies, in which the administration of justice is virtually in the hands of the humanitarian agencies that exercise this function either directly, or by delegating it to community leaders.
In reality temporary camp are exceptional space put in place to deal with populations that disturb the national order of things, while spatially, camps always have boundaries the fact is that in despite of ubiquitous images of sprawling refugee camps the majority of refugees are no longer confined to camps they now live in cities or towns.
So try to imagine yourself in Zaatari a Jordanian Camp set on a lump of desert.
It has a current population of over 100,000 souls,( Equivalent to the population of Exeter Uk or Reykjavík Iceland.) of which 70% are woman and children.
People are reduced to ants in this dystopian, chronically parched science – fiction setting in Jordan.
A population that is utterly poverty-stricken and powerless, reduced to de facto prisoners with no hope no food no running water, imagine the toilets. Anger blooms, mothers sell their daughters, gangs roam, children go feral:
(Non of this can be blamed on Jordan who have contributed over £500 million against contributions from other countries of around £150 million. With 14,000 new arrivals a week a half a million will only keep the camp open for a few months.)
Imagine you are on a disposable barque approaching Lampedusa with 500 passenger packed like sardines having paid traffickers $ 1000 to $1600. ( Newspapers headlines constantly refer to these people as illegal immigrants. They’er not, they’er refugees. ) You have survived crossing of the Sahara, the violence in Libya and all told your family have raised $6000 for you to make the journey in the likelihood that they will never see you again.
Anyway lets say you don’t drown, now add the screaming and crying ringing in your ears as you scramble the shore to be warped in a tinfoil, and bused to a reception camp, fingerprinted though you are not a criminal.
Your only option is to vanish to continue your journey in the hands of traffickers and gangs who exploit, enslave, rape and bully.
The EU Dublin convention stipulates that people political asylum must remain in the first safe country you land in. There is no picking and choosing.
According to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, European countries have the obligation to provide asylum to those who seek it. This is not the matter of politics and economy, but of basic human rights. There is no person that should live in fear for their life and the lives of their close ones.
Its only by not looking, by turning or backs that we can sail away and think that this is sad, but it is not our sadness.
Refugees are not spread evenly across the world.
Seven countries – Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine and Jordan – host more than 50% of all refugees. Many countries, including some of the richest and most developed countries like the US, UK and Australia, are not fully living up to their responsibility under the Refugee Convention.
At the moment, there are over 9 million refugees seeking asylum.
If all refugees were distributed evenly across all the countries in the world, each country would host 100,000 refugees.
By mid-2015, the World Bank’s estimated cost of the Syrian war for the Middle Eastern countries is $35 billion.
Current funding models for displacement are no sustainable.
Whether greater international coordination could produce better outcomes for refugee-receiving countries and for the refugees themselves is of course governed by funds.
The United Nations’ annual appeal for international aid has risen 500% in 10 years due to the “new norm” of multiple humanitarian crises. Only 26% of the money needed has been committed, to enable the UN to provide assistance to 78.9 million people in 37 countries.
To quote António Guterres: The UN high commissioner for refugees. “Today’s needs are at unprecedented levels and without more support there simply is no way to respond to the humanitarian situations we’re seeing in region after region and in conflict after conflict.”
It has been widely suggested that more resources should be devoted to providing aid to refugees closer to home. “80% of our emergency response is to man-made crises which are now “apocalyptic” with displacement of people the highest since the second world war and multiple crises being the “new norm”.
On average, around 100 million people are affected by natural disasters per year and disasters now cost more than $100bn in economic damages. The number of displaced people has also increased, with 65 million people displaced at the close of 2015 compared with 33.3 million in 2013.
While donors give more generously every year, the gap between funds needed and funds provided continues to widen.
This raises questions about our ability to continue to meet affected people’s needs.
Then there is the question whether to devote resources directly to repatriation and reintegration programs, or simply to provide some form of economic incentive to return.
Neither will stem the flow of long-distance illegal migrants, once such flows have become established.
The best option by far is to find ways of preventing civil wars or to stop them recurring. Civil wars suggest that the causes are chiefly economic rather than political.
To really help displaced people, aid agencies must better understand how people are helping themselves, to figure out how to support these initiatives and advocate on behalf of refugees to overcome the barriers.
Education is to be seen as key to contributing to long-term solutions for refugees, ensuring that displaced generations are equipped to rebuild their lives and communities − either in the country of asylum or upon
their return home.
We need to fix the system – not for today, but to be ready for what the situation will be like five years from now never mind 20 or 30 years in the future.
It’s no wonder that we are living in disturbed times.
It is now time to unite and provide a new home for those who need it the most. What is needed, therefore, is a comprehensive, fully funded global program.
The world can’t keep pretending the refugee catastrophe is a European problem. The brunt of the crisis has fallen on the Turks, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Iraqis and the Lebanese.
All the goodwill, all the technology, all the appeals, all the solutions will not stop people fleeing wars, or climate change.
A smart phone can be a lifeline if you’ve had to leave everything else behind, because when you take to the roads, to the boats and to the trains, all our political leaders can think of is fences, barbed wire and more police.
There is only one way to help:
And that is to get Profit for Profit sake to contribute.
By placing a world Aid Commission on all High Frequency Trading, on all Foreign Exchange Transactions over $50,000, on all Sovereign Wealth funds Acquisitions. Combined this with a 0.00005% charge on all tweets, and all online purchases, on all google inquires, on all Facebook postings, etc.
Will create a permanent self funding resource of funds doing away with begging for resources.
Mr António Guterres should call a world summit of all Industrial world leaders not countries with a view to passing a people resolution to implement such a World Aid commission.
Then we might have some hope of a more peacefully world for all.
All suggestions and comments appreciate. All like clicks chucked in the bin.