A warning bell

In a recent report published on the occasion of World Refugee Day this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that nearly 80 million people in the world have been forcibly displaced due to violence, conflict, natural disasters, etc. This figure once again rang a warning bell, urging the international community to join hands in maintaining peace and finding sustainable solutions to the issue of migrants and refugees.

Syrian refugee girls carry stacks of bread on their heads at a Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, May 7, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Syrian refugee girls carry stacks of bread on their heads at a Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, May 7, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

At the UN Security Council’s online meeting held last week, while highlighting the disturbing situation of refugees around the globe, the head of the UNHCR, F. Grandi, said war, conflict, and natural disasters, acts of violence, mistreatment and human rights violations werepreventing about 1% of the world’s population from returning to their home. According to the UNHCR report, global displacement reached a staggering 79.5 million people last year – almost double the number registered a decade ago – owing to war, violence, persecution and other emergencies. This is the highest figure that UNHCR has recorded since these statistics have been systematically collected, being of course a cause for great concern.

Notably, since 2012, the number of refugees has increased, especially in conflict countries and regions. In particular, Syria topped the list of countries with the most refugees in the world, where constant conflict has caused 13.4 million people to flee their homeland. Political instability and economic crisis have forced 4.9 million people to look for opportunities abroad. The UNHCR also pointed out that there are many causes leading to the increasing plight of refugees, but the main ones areviolence, inequality and the impact of climate change. An increase in the number of people who have to leave their homes means that conflict and violence have not decreased, along with the rise of both natural disasters and economic difficulties.

In Europe, the crisis of migrants who have rattled the region has temporarily eased, with the number of illegal migrants to the “Old Continent” tending to have decreased from 2018. However, “underground waves”still remain as the number of deaths on the journey across the sea continued to increase. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) forces still make daily efforts to save boats full of migrants floating on the Mediterranean. The issue of refugees is a major challenge, in the context that the EU has not resolved disagreements among member countries related to policies regarding the receipt of migrants, while a trend of populism and anti-immigration policies has emerged.

In their journey to search for a safer life, migrants and refugees are facing numerous challenges such as discrimination, difficult living conditions, and limited access to services related to education, health, clean water, sanitation, etc. In the context of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged the world into a double crisis in terms of both health and economics, these challenges have become even more pressing.

However, difficulties are not just for migrants and refugees. The increasing number of refugees means pressure and many burdens being placed on the shoulders of the host countries. At the recent online session, members of the UN Security Council pointed out the serious impacts of climate change and the current epidemic on refugees and agreed to promote accountability mechanisms to support refugees and host countries. The UNHCR urged countries to unite and join hands to devise sustainable solutions to the issue of refugees, the most important of which are efforts to maintain peace, uphold political determination and effectively implement the Global Compact on Refugees.

The issue of migrants and refugees is not a challenge at the national scale, but a global crisis. Therefore,comprehensive and sustainable solutions to overcome this challenge include preventing and resolving conflicts through the path of political dialogue, joining hands to consolidate global peace and security and responding to the negative impacts of climate change.