Last 29th of June OIDEL attended to a side event at the UNOG about “Protection of Human Rights while adressing large movements of migrants and refugees”. There, two UN speakers and two civil society speakers gave their point of view about the worldwide refugees crisis.
Next September will take place, at the UN headquarters in New York, a high-level meeting on refugees and migrants. Thus, it is the ideal moment to make a few reviews to see what is the situation like and what have we done so far to solve this humanitarian issue.
We are in front of the most important historical crisis of migration, with more than 66 million people being displaced internally and externally around the world. It is true that the convention of 1951 has saved many refugees till today, but new actions must be undertaken as soon as possible, due to the massive dimension of this crisis without precedents. These actions cannot be individual actions anymore, as it is not a problem of an individual country but of the whole world.
The reason of this crisis is not just a reason of mobility; it is also a reason of capacity and competency in the protection of those leaving their homes, and obviously a crisis of values. All these millions of people leaving their lands are just leaving because remaining is not an option anymore if they want to be saved and have a future. The obvious reaction of countries against this crisis should at least be compassion towards them.
However, we can see that there is a massive gap between this situation and the countries’ policies, especially in wealthy countries, that are directed in externalizing their responsibilities to others. Indeed, countries with human rights developed structures are not just made for helping migrants and refugees but rather for increasing barriers to avoid them from arriving; this was recently seen in Europe through Turkey. Thus, the “humanitarian action” instead of being focused on helping migrants to arrive in order to save their lives, is being used to reduce the number of migrants arriving to their countries.
The consequences of those policies in wealthy countries are already happening, for instance: patrols looking out in high seas in order to return migrants to their homes, an increase of xenophobia and discrimination in their civil society and a justification in poor countries to justify their abuses.
It is very difficult to see in these actions the compassion that humanity should have in front of these situations. Especially when we realize that while there are wealthy countries who think that 30 thousand refugees per country create a crisis in their countries, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Africa for whom no one cares.
Therefore, it is time to decide how we want to be remembered in the future. Next September it is a good opportunity to change the direction of our policies toward migrants and refugees; if not for ourselves, let’s do it for our children.
Pere Grau Callizo