Every June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day set aside to highlight the plight of millions of people who have escaped conflict and are hoping to have a fresh start.
Introduced by the UN Refugee Agency in 2001, this day came ahead of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland.
The convention gave nations the responsibility to grant asylum to those rendered stateless by warfare, famine or natural disasters and those most vulnerable to persecution.
Sadly, the reverse has been the case, especially in the wake of Europe’s migrant crisis, which does not seem to be going away soon.
According to the United Nations, a record high of 68.5 million individuals have now been displaced worldwide due to poverty, war, persecution among others.
Only 100,000 refugees were resettled by the international community in 2017, the report added, with additional 2.9 million people seeking asylum statuses following conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
So far, the world’s top refugee host has been Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan.
The UN Refugee agency has over the years insisted that the refugee crisis is occurring not because of the number of refugees but because Europe has failed to respond to it in a coordinated fashion.
“In our view, European countries need to work together rather than point fingers at each other. In order to deal with this situation, Europe should open more legal ways for refugees to come,” William Spindler, senior spokesperson of the UNHCR, told news site Aljazeera in 2015 at the peak of the crisis.
Since that period, thousands of people are reported to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea.
These migrants often come in by boats, which sometimes capsize off the coast of Libya, leading to these unfortunate deaths.
Libya has for some time now been the passage point for such migrants whose main entry point is Italy.
In recent years, many of them, including pregnant women and children, have been stranded at the ports as in the recent case where Italy refused to allow a rescue ship carrying hundreds of migrants from the Mediterranean Sea to dock near its waters.
The U.N. refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi described Italy’s refusal to help the stranded migrants as “profoundly shameful” for the EU.
He said the EU can expect more of such incidents in coming weeks as far as it remains divided on its policies toward migrants and refugees.
The ongoing crisis at Europe’s shores has led to series of debates across Europe over migration.
Meanwhile, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) has been condemning the deaths recorded at the shores, describing as unacceptable that people escaping from war and conflict end up dying at the doorsteps of Europe.
This year’s World Refugee Day, which is on the theme: “Now More Than Ever, We Need to Stand with Refugees,” will be honoured by a donation to refugee and migrant aid groups, and the raising of awareness of the situation being faced by refugees.
This year’s commemoration is coming at a time when the U.S announced that it would withdraw from the UN Human Rights Committee.
Harrowing audio reveals desperate sobbing of children separated from their parents at US immigration centres pic.twitter.com/hmihSx3M5f
— Evening Standard (@EveningStandard) June 19, 2018
It follows criticisms the country has received for its policy on separating migrant families crossing the border from Mexico to seek asylum in the US.