The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Neglect

Report
June 15, 2015

The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Neglect

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  • Worst refugee crisis since World War II.
  • One million refugees desperately in need of resettlement.
  • Four million Syrian refugees struggling to survive in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
  • More than 3 million refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, and only a small fraction offered resettlement since 2013.
  • 3,500 people drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2014 -- 1,865 so far in 2015.
  • 300 people died in the Andaman Sea in the first three months of 2015 due to starvation, dehydration and abuse by boat crews.

World leaders are condemning millions of refugees to an unbearable existence and thousands to death by failing to provide essential humanitarian protection, said Amnesty International as it published a new briefing in Beirut today, ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20.

The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Neglect explores the startling suffering of millions of refugees, from Lebanon to Kenya, the Andaman Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and calls for a radical change in the way the world deals with refugees.

“We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis of our era, with millions of women, men and children struggling to survive amidst brutal wars, networks of people traffickers and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The refugee crisis is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, but the response of the international community has been a shameful failure. We need a radical overhaul of policy and practice to create a coherent and comprehensive global strategy.”

Amnesty International is setting out a proposal to reinvigorate the system for refugee protection and urging states to make firm commitments to live up to their individual legal obligations and renew their commitment to international responsibility-sharing. Amongst the actions Amnesty International is urging governments to take are:

  • A commitment to collectively resettle the one million refugees who currently need resettlement over the next four years.
  • To establish a global refugee fund that will fulfill all UN humanitarian appeals for refugee crises and provide financial support to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
  • The global ratification of the UN Refugee Convention.
  • To develop fair domestic systems to assess refugee claims and guarantee that refugees have access to basic services such as education and healthcare.

“The world can no longer sit and watch while countries like Lebanon and Turkey take on such huge burdens. No country should be left to deal with a massive humanitarian emergency with so little help from others, just because it happens to share a border with a country in conflict,” said Shetty.

“Governments across the world have the duty to ensure people do not die while trying to reach safety. It is essential that they offer a safe haven for desperate refugees, establish a global refugee fund and take effective action to prosecute trafficking gangs. Now is the time to step up protection for refugees, anything less will make world leaders accomplices in this preventable tragedy.”

Syria: World’s largest refugee crisis

More than four million refugees have fled Syria, 95 percent of them are in just five main host countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

These countries are now struggling to cope. The international community has failed to provide them, or the humanitarian agencies supporting refugees, with sufficient resources. Despite calls from the UNHCR and the UN Refugee Agency, far too few resettlement places have been offered to Syrian refugees. The situation is so desperate that some of Syria’s neighbors have resorted to deeply troubling measures, including denying desperate people entry to their territory and pushing people back into the conflict.