Refugee Crisis: What You Need To Know – By Oluwatomisin Sewueseter Ojebode
Everyday people are pulled or pushed to migrate for reasons that are obviously beyond their control. This migration in the simple terms of ‘looking for help’ comes with hardships, discrimination and injustice with children, women, disabled and older persons as the worst hit of these challenges.
A refugee is one who forcefully flees from his or her country to another because of natural disasters, persecution, war, violence or environmental hazards. While an internally displaced person (IDPs) is one who moves from his or her home (with same reasons as a refugee) but remains within the territory of his or her country.
The rapid movements of these refugees and IDPs have become a global crisis as figures speak for themselves. In a 2018 report from UN Migration Agency, the number of migrants in 2015 was more than 35 million people. Now, more than 60 million people have been forced away from their homes according to The UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). South Sudan is known to host largest refugee crisis in Africa. In its war of about five years now, UNHCR reports that one-third of the population have forced to flee of which 90% are women and children. UNHCR also reports that this year; about 250 people have died or gone missing as they attempted to reach Europe by sea. In Nigeria, there were more than 2 million IDPs in 2015 according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
These refugees and IDPs have life dreams as well as “the right to seek refuge and asylum”. However, they face two phases of problems after leaving their homes. They face problems on their journey for refuge and problems when (that is if at all) they arrive at refuge.
On their painstaking journey, refugees and displaced persons are challenged with extreme poverty, diseases, trauma, unfavorable weathers and closed borders. On arrival, they face discrimination, inhumane treatment, violence, lack of basic needs, lack of education, traumatic stress and legal restrictions for refugees like lack of access to education and employment.
The seemingly unending problems of refugees cannot be solved by one person. As a result, international, migrant and private organizations are seeking for global cooperation for actions on refugee crisis. These organizations have made attempts to provide relief materials, provide education, defend refugees, improve reception conditions and make sustainable policies for refugees and IDPs.
In addition to curb refugee crisis, the UN refugee Agency; UNHCR has developed two global compacts (agreements) for which powerful countries will agree to, towards the end of 2018. As refugees come mostly from developing countries, the compacts are aimed to create a shared responsibility of this crisis so that powerful countries will support and contribute largely for a global change.
The first compact is the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the second is the Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration both aimed at giving effective reception to refugees and creating safer migration respectively.
Nevertheless, these compacts that seem to be the best compass for change have doubts. Firstly, migration will not stop if its causes are not looked into. Developing counties are faced with poverty, violence, war, health hazards and climate change. These are the reasons why people migrate and if they are not dealt with, there will be no end to migration.
Secondly, the agreements to the UNHCR compacts must be beyond concordant but actions. Many States prefer to send refugees back to their countries thereby avoiding responsibilities. However, their forthcoming agreement must involve commitment so that they truthfully obey and achieve the objectives of the compacts if not, there would be no end to refugee crisis.
Sooner or later, I hope to see a global community where people can exercise the right to seek refuge and asylum without fear of discrimination and hardships. I also hope for a global co-operation and commitment to protect and support the lives of refugees and displaced persons. I desire for a global environment where legal assistance is given to refugees to lawfully access education, live and work. I hope for a divided labour and willingness of shared responsibilities and effective responses for vast medical and traumatic care to refugees and IDPs.
These global attitudes and policies are the need for a global change in refugee crisis.