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The world right now is facing one of its largest humanitarian crisis. With the 65th anniversary of the United Nations refugee convention being put into place, there are now approximately 65 million refugees who are displaced globally, the most since the end of World War 2 (The Irish Times, 2016). Out of the 65 million refugees close to one-third are children being caught in the crossfire and what have they done to deserve all this?

Last year, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set in place a few proposals for a game-changing global deal that would mean all world states had the shared responsibility to protect the refugees. The initial plan was to coordinate a global response to the ever so increasing movement of the refugees, including that of developing countries where they host more than 86% of the world’s refugees while the richer nations may recognize refugee rights but often tend to back away when accepting these refugees into their lands. A better, rational solution, in which the rich countries would share the responsibility of taking refugees was on the cards. But now this plan, a Global compact on Responsibility-sharing for refugees- hangs in the balance. Before the end of July, the member states of the UN in New York have the final opportunity to formulate the proposals before the UN adopts them in September.

Last year, there was an agreement by the UN to put forward 17 goals to transform the world we live in. This was a sustainable development criterion that promised that “all human beings can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment” (http://www.hindustantimes.com/, 2016). These SDG’s promised all the people the much-needed chance to a prosperous and a fulfilling life. This could be a historic breakthrough if it turns out to be a success.

However, instead of being a historic breakthrough, we could now face it to turn into a historic failure. The thousands of refugees that are languishing – at times for years – in countries that aren’t equipped to host such numbers of refugees must not wait a moment there suffering for a chance at freedom. A co-operated agreement between countries that doesn’t deliver action would perpetuate unwanted suffering resulting in the loss of innocent lives. It would also symbolize a senseless waste of the tremendous human potential of vast numbers of women, men and children.

Amnesty international has begun a proposal for a five-point plan for the member states of the UN to share equal responsibility for assisting and hosting the refugees. In my personal opinion, I think this would be beneficial as the responsibilities are divided amongst the countries based on their GDP, unemployment rates and other criteria’s. I like to think that such actions of sharing responsibilities would and will go on to saving millions of lives from death and suffering or by drowning or disease. This would offer refugees with a real, legal and safe escape routes from war-torn zones across the world and wouldn’t have to worry about their families or themselves.

Tackling the current crisis of refugees is completely possible. The international community has started to show vital signs it can conquer complex challenges such as SDG’s and also the climate change criteria’s which were approved in Paris last December. I tend to think that the current global crisis is more of a crisis of leadership rather than a failure of resources. A good example would be the Indochina refugee crisis in the 1970’s where the global community came together via the UN and showed how to combat the root cause of the problem. It went to show how richer countries can collaborate and accommodate thousands of people and show how working together and sharing responsibilities can go a long way. There isn’t much time left for the UN states to act. Do we want to go down as the generation that squandered this historic opportunity to protect thousands of refugees or does we go down as the leaders who seized the chance?

Some people tend to say, I’ve heard too myself that, ‘Hey, let’s not support those refugees from Syria because there are high chances that those people are highly radicalized Muslims’! Thus categorizing them before even thinking that they’re human just like the rest of us who are trying to flee from war-torn zones! How could we all forget the Golden Rule? (Nguyen, 2016) What if we hop onto to their shoes even for an hour? What if you and your family were a refugee? If by any chance the U.S. banned refugees from Europe back in the 17th and 18th century, then North America would be only occupied by the first nations. This obviously wouldn’t have been bad but this would’ve stopped the immigration to North America and our way of life would’ve been completely different to that of now. What I understand from this situation is that the wealthier countries through this mandate that has been passed should come forward and give a lending hand to the people who need it the most right now. Let’s all gather every bit of humanity we have within us and help these helpless souls without categorizing them into which religion, gender or ethnicity. History has proven that it doesn’t long for even the greatest of civilizations to fall. So let us all keep that in my and help the refugees with every chance we get.

Charith

Dubai Campus

References

  1. Sayigh, Y. (2016). Facing the Refugee Challenge: Time for a Paradigm Change. [online] Carnegie Middle East Center. Available at: http://carnegie-mec.org/2016/02/01/facing-refugee-challenge-time-for-paradigm-change-pub-62570 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
  2. Nguyen, V. (2016). The Hidden Scars All Refugees Carry. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/opinion/the-hidden-scars-all-refugees-carry.html?_r=0 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
  3. Anderson, J. (2016). States are ducking their responsibilities to refugees. This U.N. declaration might just start to change that.. [online] Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/23/states-are-ducking-their-responsibilities-to-refugees-this-u-n-declaration-might-just-start-to-change-that/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
  4. BBC News. (2016). UN focuses on refugees – will it be enough? – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37389648 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
  5. The Irish Times. (2016). UN summit on refugees fails to offer solutions. [online] Available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/un-summit-on-refugees-fails-to-offer-solutions-1.2797049 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
  6. org. (2016). Refugees, Displaced People Surpass 60 Million For First Time, UNHCR Says. [online] Available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/20/482762237/refugees-displaced-people-surpass-60-million-for-first-time-unhcr-says [Accessed 17 Dec. 2016].
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