In the News June 21
June 20, World Refugee Day
Increased Speed and Scale of Forced Displacement
World Refugee Day was marked on June 20, bringing to the fore the devastating fact that the number of people displaced by war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses surpassed 100 million in May, 2022. More than 10.7 million people are said to have become refugees in the first five months of 2022. The number at the end of 2021, 89.3 million, was more than double the number of refugees in the world in 2011.
A press release from the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, UNHCR, on June 16 quoted World Bank statistics that in 2021 twenty-three countries with a combined population of 850 million faced medium or high intensity conflicts. Meanwhile, the UNHCR report says, “food scarcity, inflation and the climate crisis are adding to people’s hardship, stretching the humanitarian response just as the funding outlook in many situations appears bleak.” Most refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries with few resources.
The UNHCR reports that last year also saw the 15th straight annual rise in people displaced within their countries by conflict, to 53.2 million, in countries including Myanmar, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Chad.
The report continues, “The speed and volume of displacement is still outpacing the availability of solutions for those displaced – like return, resettlement or local integration. Yet the Global Trends report also contained glimmers of hope. The number of refugee and IDP [internally displaced people] returns increased in 2021, returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, with voluntary repatriation having surged 71 per cent, though numbers remained modest.
“‘While we’re witnessing appalling new refugee situations, and existing ones reigniting or remaining unresolved, there are also examples of countries and communities working together to pursue solutions for the displaced,’ (High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo) Grandi added. ‘It’s happening in places – for example the regional cooperation to repatriate Ivorians – but these important decisions need to be replicated or scaled up elsewhere.’
“And although the estimated number of stateless people grew slightly in 2021, some 81,200 acquired citizenship or had it confirmed – the biggest reduction in statelessness since the start of UNHCR’s IBelong campaign in 2014.”
Besides the shocking high number of refugees due to the unjust world order enforced by imperialist and former colonial powers, the treatment they are receiving at the hands of the U.S. imperialists and European countries especially, is also shocking. Middle East Monitor reported on June 20 that the EU is providing $84.2 million to the Egyptian coastguard to prevent boats carrying asylum seekers from leaving its shores for Europe. It quoted an EU Commission paper that said that over 3,500 Egyptians had fled the country in the first five months of 2022, most going to Italy.
In 2016 Germany and Italy approved the sale of mass surveillance equipment to Egypt, including a monitoring centre and software to intercept private phone conversations. The president of EuroMed Rights reported at that time, “EU support to Egypt on migration has served to reinforce Egypt’s policing capacities and harsh border management policies, legitimizing and strengthening the violence of the authoritarian Egyptian regime.”
Other big powers of the U.S./NATO alliance in particular who are responsible for aggression and acts of war including economic sanctions that create the conditions that force millions of people to flee their home countries, impose racist and inhumane conditions on refugees and asylum seekers as well, violating their responsibilities under international covenants. On June 14 the British government was forced to cancel a flight to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda after the European Court of Human Rights granted an injunction in the case of one of the asylum-seekers.The British government’s plan to deport all asylum seekers who reach Britain to Rwanda is a blatant violation of international law.
Most egregious of all are the actions of the United States at its southern border with Mexico, while Canada also treats refugee laws in the most self-serving and anti-humanitarian way.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, said on June 16 that “Every year of the last decade, the numbers have climbed,” and that “Either the international community comes together to take action to address this human tragedy, resolve conflicts and find lasting solutions, or this terrible trend will continue.”
(United Nations’ Refugee Agency Global Trends Report, Middle East Monitor).
TML Daily, posted June 21, 2022.