A new report published by Amnesty International says the global community has not done enough to tackle the world refugee crisis. Titled, “Tackling the Global Refugee Crisis: From Shirking to Sharing Responsibility,” the report reflects on how the world has responded to the refugee crisis and asserts that most nations have failed to take their fair share of responsibility in hosting refugees.
“Many of the world’s wealthiest nations host the fewest refugees, both in absolute numbers and relative to their size and wealth. This is unfair and undermines the inherent right of refugees,” argues the report.
Furthermore, the report points that more than half of the world’s 21 million refugees are living in just 10 out of the 193 countries in the world, and most of the 10 countries happen to be developing nations. Five out of the ten countries are in Africa, including Chad, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, and Uganda.
“This is inherently unsustainable. Countries hosting such high numbers of refugees cannot provide for them. Many refugees are living in grinding poverty without access to basic services and without hope for the future. Not surprisingly, many are desperate to move elsewhere. And some are willing to risk dangerous journeys to try and find a better life,” the report explains.
Earlier this year, Face2Face Africa reported several incidents relating to the capsizing of migrant boats that were attempting to cross over the Mediterranean sea. The incidents led to the deaths of thousands of migrants, some who were refugees.
The report makes the case:
When we break the global refugee crisis down by the numbers, the inequality in the response of states is stark. This is because the problem is not the number of refugees, but that the vast majority (86 percent according to figures from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR) are hosted in low and middle-income countries.
Meanwhile, many of the world’s wealthiest nations host the fewest and do the least. For example, the UK has accepted approximately 8,000 Syrians since 2011, while Jordan – with a population almost 10 times smaller than the UK and just 1.2 percent of its GDP – hosts close to 655,000 refugees from Syria. The total refugee and asylum-seeker population in Australia is 58,000 compared to 740,000 in Ethiopia. Such unequal sharing of responsibility is at the root of the global refugee crisis and the many problems faced by refugees.
Refugees are often forced to flee their homes because of civil wars and political crises. For instance, Burundi has faced civil unrest since 2015 and as a result, over 265,000 refugees have fled to the DRC, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. The report also notes that the armed conflict in South Sudan has pushed 1 million refugees into Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Ethiopia is home to the largest refugee population in sub-Saharan Africa with 736,10, while Kenya is close behind with 553,900.
Kenya also hosts two of the largest refugee camps in the world, which are home to refugees from Burundi, Ethiopia, DRC, South Sudan, and Sudan. Dadaab has over 300,000 refugees while Kakuma has a population of more than 150,000. The country’s encampment policy emphasizes that the refugees should stay within the two camps.
Watch this video of what life’s like in a Dadaab refugee camp:
The Kenyan government closed the Dadaab camp earlier this year due to limited funding and support from the international community. While African nations are doing the best they can to support the refugee community, their efforts are simply not enough.
But what are some of the underlying reasons why nations have failed to play a more substantive role in addressing the refugees crisis?
The report points to xenophobia, anti-migration, and security concerns as some of the plausible reasons and encourages a shift in mindset in order to effectively address the crisis.
We need to change this, shift it to a narrative of generosity and positivity, one in which we can ensure security and help refugees – we do not need to make a choice. People can be moved to be part of a shared, fair, worldwide solution. And leaders should be making this case, not pandering to their own political ambitions.