WORLD REFUGEE DAY – PROTECTION AND COMPASSION FOR REFUGEES IS PARAMOUNT
Today the world has continued to face one of the darkest consequence of conflicts and degrading environment.
It is dishearthening to know that a quarter billion people worldwide live outside their country of nationality.
The fact that most of them are migrants, people who opt to leave their countries seeking greater opportunity.
One-tenth of them, though, are refugees. They are fleeing political persecution and other acute threats: barrel bombs in Syria, razed villages in Myanmar, or political turmoil, crime, and hyperinflation in Venezuela.
The ever growing numbers of refugees caused by conflict is a reflection of how the world has failed to resolve the crisis that has made refugee a permenant feature in the world statistic. There seems to be a reality of a broken system.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is struggling to provide life-saving assistance in response to emergencies. But the challenge to provide a meaningful opportunities for the long-term displaced or support the communities hosting them is huge..
Compounding the challenges is the rising anti-immigrant sentiment.
The envisioned refugee status as a temporary one is getting to be more difficult to attained.
For people who fear or have suffered persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion and who as a result require protection is a complex issue to address.
The options are limited to either return to their countries of origin; gain permanent residency in the country to which they have fled; or be resettled in a third country.
We question why is the world’s swelling refugee population has shrinking options ?
According to the UNHCR, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world.
More than 21 million of these people are refugees and 10 million are stateless.
On average, 42,500 people per day flee their homes to seek protection within the borders of their own country or other countries.
In the last year alone, there have been 13.9 million people newly displaced.
The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our lifetime.
More than 11 million Syrians are currently displaced. This amounts to 45% of the Syrian population.
86% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.
This number has jumped by 16% in the last decade.
Of the 20 million refugees worldwide, 51% are under the age of 18.
This is the highest number of child refugees since World War II.
Wars, persecution, and instability have driven the number of refugees to historic highs.
Rather than offer protection, many countries have erected new barriers, leaving many of today’s refugees in protracted limbo.
The most serious problem facing the refugees is protection of their rights in host countries. Indeed refugees live in a persistent environment of vulnarability to exploitation and denial of human rights. Their access to basic needs are generally denied.
On top of the extreme difficulties they are facing , the issue of xenophobia has been on the rise in countries they seek refuge. Governments are easily agitated by local population that do not welcome refugees. National interest seems to over right human rights of the refugees.
While we recognize the need for the right of return of all refugees , we call for all countries hosting them to take appropriate measures to protect their rights in accordance with international law.
Accessibility to health care , shelter , basic needs , documentation , education , opportunity to earn a living , freedom of movement , religious practices , should be made available.
On this day , the International Refugee Day , we urge the multinational organization to work with national governments in protecting the rights of refugees. A positive and constructive engagement should prevail. The crafting of a more humane policy relating to refugees should be put into place.
We are particularly concern on the cases of countries blocking access for refugees that resulted in high casualties on land and sea.
We also emphasize on the importance of access to education for refugee children. It is a basic rights for all children to be educated as enshrined in Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
We believe education not only protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage , it is also the guarantee for them to determine their future. Education also strengthens community resilience to cop with the challenges of survival as refugees.
Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid