Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Refugees - sharing the burden?

Our media spreads poison about refugees and other migrants, day after day, year after year. “We” have a refugee crisis.

But the world's wealthiest nations have been accused by Amnesty International of leaving poorer countries to bear the brunt of global refugee crisis.

Just ten countries - which account for just 2.5 percent of the global economy - are hosting more than half the world's refugees, the human rights group said. 56 percent of the world's 21 million refugees are being hosted in countries which are all in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

Jordan, which has taken in more than 2.7 million people, was named as the top refugee hosting country, followed by Turkey, over 2.5 million; Pakistan, 1.6 million; and Lebanon, more than 1.5 million. The other top six nations were Iran, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.

Amnesty said many of the world's wealthiest nations "host the fewest and do the least". Britain, for example, has taken in fewer than 8,000 Syrians since 2011, while Jordan - with a population almost 10 times smaller than Britain and just 1.2 percent of its GDP - hosts more than 655,000 refugees from its war-torn neighbor. It singled out Canada, which has resettled some 30,000 Syrian refugees in the past year, as a wealthy country doing its part.

"It is not simply a matter of sending aid money. Rich countries cannot pay to keep people 'over there'," Amnesty said.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary-general, explained, "It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution. They need to explain why the world can bail out banks, develop new technologies and fight wars, but cannot find safe homes for 21 million refugees, just 0.3 percent of the world's population."

Kathleen Newland, cofounder of the Migration Policy Institute, said unless more countries step up their response, the refugees will continue to flee using dangerous routes, "I think we'll see more people trying to move through clandestine channels using smugglers, putting themselves in great danger to try to reach a place where they can restart their lives," she told Al Jazeera. "The more governments try to close off those routes, the more dangerous the alternatives become."

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