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- At present, we are witnessing the refugee crisis at the Belarus-European Union border.
- Refugee crises are one of the major concerns for the international community.
- At present, there are more than 8.2 crore refugees (82 million) worldwide.
Who are refugees:
- Refugees are forcibly displaced. They flee their country due to several reasons such as violence, human rights violations, war, persecution of minorities etc. Often they face threats to life in their home countries. They leave their homes and everything else in search of a safer place to live.
- People seek asylum in another country due to the above-stated reasons, but if the claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country, they remain asylum seekers as long as the application is pending. If their application is accepted, they become refugees. Every refugee is an asylum seeker initially.
- A refugee is someone who was recognized as a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention, a United Nations multilateral treaty.
Status of refugees worldwide:
- At present, many countries are refusing refugees stating that they pose an economic or security threat. Only a few countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Liberia are accepting most of the refugees.
- Often refugees flee to the neighbouring countries. Many refugees struggle to meet their basic needs such as water, food, sanitation etc. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress. Often they face discrimination in the host countries. Most of the refugees are either unemployed or underemployed. Big obstacles for their employment opportunities are language and culture barriers.
- Some of them move to a third country on refugee resettlement program. There, they will have the right to reside long-term or permanent in the country of resettlement. But only a few refugees are resettling like this.
- Some host countries are forcibly sending refugees back to their home countries stating that such as the situation in their home country is safe. Many refugees who were sent like this went through brutal violence and some people were even disappeared.
What the international community is doing for refugees:
- Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted in 1948, guarantees the right to seek asylum in other countries.
- The 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees refugees’ human rights and defines who is a refugee. It contributed a lot to the international legal system on refugee rights.
- Only a few countries are accepting many refugees, while many other countries are not taking any responsibility at all. As a result, the host countries are overburdened. Those countries are struggling with increased poverty and unemployment. So, many are now fighting for the equitable sharing of refugees among all the countries.
- The Global Compact on Refugees, an international agreement was adopted by the member states of the United Nations in December 2018. It aims to protect the refugees worldwide, to ease the burden on host countries of refugees. It is a framework for the international community for more equitable responsibility-sharing in refugee protection.
- Every year a few countries are accepting several refugees from host countries under the ‘Third country resettlement‘ or ‘refugee resettlement program. But the number of resettled refugees is only a fraction of the number of refugees worldwide.
- The first-ever Global refugee forum took place in December 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland to bring the international community together to demonstrate solidarity with the world’s refugees.
- To celebrate the strength and courage of the refugees worldwide, United Nations organizes World Refugee Day on 20th June every year. This day offers a chance to raise awareness about the refugee crisis.
What more should be done:
- All the countries should share the responsibility of refugees. Resettlement of the refugees should be done without much delay. They should be provided with skill development courses and employment opportunities to help them in living a dignified life.
- A weak global response is worsening the situation of refugees. The international community should help in rebuilding the war-torn countries, where refugees are coming from, so that safe and dignified returns are possible for refugees.
- Refugees should not be forcibly sent to their home countries.
- Host countries should be supported financially through funding from the international community.
- Many developed countries are spending so much money to protect their borders, but are not spending any money for protecting the lives of refugees. More funding is required to protect refugees.
Often refugees struggle to meet basic needs such as access to clean water and sanitation facilities. All countries should take responsibility for resettling refugees to ensure them a dignified life. Moreover, the international community should work towards the betterment of conditions in countries of origin for refugees.
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