Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility

Refugees at a camp in the port area of Thessaloniki © Amnesty International (Photo: Richard Burton)
October 3, 2016

Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility

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Wealthy countries have shown a complete absence of leadership and responsibility, leaving just 10 countries, which account for less than 2.5 percent of world GDP, to take in 56 percent of the world’s refugees, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive assessment of the global refugee crisis published today.

The report ‘Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility,’ documents the precarious situation faced by many of the world’s 21 million refugees. While many in Greece, Iraq, on the island of Nauru, or at the border of Syria and Jordan are in dire need of a home, others in Kenya and Pakistan are facing growing harassment from governments.

The report sets out a fair and practical solution to the crisis based on a system that uses relevant, objective criteria to show the fair share every state in the world should take in in order to find a home for 10 percent of the world’s refugees every year.

“Just 10 of the world’s 193 countries host more than half its refugees. A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbors to a crisis. That situation is inherently unsustainable, exposing the millions fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq to intolerable misery and suffering,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

“It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution. They need to explain why the world can bail out banks, develop new technologies and fight wars, but cannot find safe homes for 21 million refugees, just 0.3 percent of the world’s population.

“If states work together, and share the responsibility, we can ensure that people who have had to flee their homes and countries, through no fault of their own, can rebuild their lives in safety elsewhere. If we don’t act people will die, from drowning, from preventable diseases in wretched camps or detention centres, or from being forced back into the conflict zones they are fleeing.”

Refugees across the world in dire need

The report underlines the urgent need for governments to increase significantly the number of refugees they take in, documenting the plight of refugees on all continents:

Sent back to conflict zones and human rights violations

  • Growing numbers of refugees in Pakistan and Iran are fleeing Afghanistan in the face of an intensifying conflict. Afghan refugees in Pakistan face increasing harassment from the authorities, who have already forced more than 10,000 to return to their war-torn country.
  • In Kenya, refugees living in the Dadaab camp are facing pressure to return to Somalia. The government wants to reduce the size of the refugee camp’s population by 150,000 people by the end of 2016. More than 20,000 Somali refugees have returned to Somalia from Dadaab.
  • More than 75,000 refugees fleeing Syria are currently trapped at the border with Jordan in a narrow stretch of desert known as the berm.

Kept in dire conditions