Inhumanity and Refugees – Messages for World Refugee Day, 20 June 2021
Dear Members and Supporters
This month, as we prepare for World Refugee Day, our focus is on the inhumanities being suffered by refugees in so many places around the world.
We are grateful to Dr Jeff Crisp for the first article below on New and Neglected Refugee Situations. And we thank Sarah Hammerl for the second article looking at the potential for action in the Courts to persuade governments to grant refugees the basic rights that are provided in international law. We are also working on a paper to shine a spotlight on some of the situations where camps that are supposed to represent safe havens for refugees can become as dangerous as the situations from which they were fleeing. This will appear in next month’s Newsletter.11 June 2021
New and neglected refugee situations
By Jeff Crisp
In recent years, the international community’s attention has been grabbed by a succession of major refugee emergencies: the flight of more than five million Syrians, escaping from the military onslaught of the Assad regime and its Russian ally; an exodus of three million Venezuelans, leaving the chaotic situation in their homeland; and the movement of 700,000 people from Myanmar’s Rohingya population, a Muslim minority group deprived of citizenship and human rights.
But there are other refugee situations that have failed to hit the headlines, either because they are relatively recent, or because they have existed for so long that they are taken for granted. This briefing identifies five of the world’s newer and most neglected refugee situations and provides links to further reading on them…
One refugee and displacement scenario that has been almost entirely neglected by the English-language media is to be found in the Sahel, a vast and semi-arid area stretching from Burkina Faso, in the south, to Algeria, in the north, and from Chad, in the east, to Mauritania in the west. Almost three million people in the region have been forced to flee from their homes and at least four times that number are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In the words of UNHCR, “the countries that make up the Sahel are among the world’s least developed and are now the epicentre of the fastest-growing displacement crisis, driven by years of violent attacks by armed insurgent groups and criminal gangs.” At the same time, the climate crisis and food insecurity has provoked conflict between refugees, displaced people and host communities, with particular tensions arising over access to water points and to limited fertile farmlands.