e-Zine

Europe Refugee Crisis

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Photo Credited: Jenkins Macedo, Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana, 2011

Over the past few months we’ve witnessed and continue to witness events unfold in Europe about the refugee crisis in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. We’ve heard and read headlines which show refugees and asylum-seekers trying to make their passages to Europe and safety through some of the hardest and dangerous means possible.

In the midst of all the headlines and challenges, we’ve seen children, women and the elderly the most vulnerable of the refugee population victims of the politics of the refugee process.

We also see images of dead migrants and refugees washed ashore off the coast of Turkey and other countries as they embarked on journey that could have been prevented, if adequate services were made available to them in the first country of refuge/asylum.

We also see in the midst of all these challenges the ineffectiveness of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to sporadically handle the problem and provide the needed assistance to refugees and migrants.

While establishing refugee status is a function of both national and international legal frameworks, the situations in Europe expose the massive problem in the UNHCR systems, which needs to be addressed accordingly. October 24, 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

While many good things have been done to date several challenges still remain unchallenged and unchanged and against this end, the UNHCR needs to wake up and stand up for the rights of refugees.

It is just so ridiculous that the UN and more specifically UNHCR would allow thousand of refugees (including women, children and the elderly) to walk miles without food, water, and appropriate shelter from one country to another in Europe. It appears that UNHCR didn’t exist. Where was UNHCR? All they kept doing and continue doing is talk. Talks are BS without actions!

One aspect is processing refugees who should be resettled to a third country after establishing their refugee status in the first country of refuge and if they apply to be resettled based on conditions of the status of their safety in the host country (first country of refuge) and their inability to return home.

It is politically correct to say that the process to determine who to resettle to a third country is a long process and requires a lot of resources and coordination with countries that are willing to accept refugees, UNHCR, the host country where they first sought refuge, and the refugees themselves.

Turkey and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa have to go beyond their capacities to accommodate the massive influx of refugees and as well provide the needed legal, humanitarian and other logistical assistance to the refugee population.

The fact that you have massive influx of people leaving the shores of Turkey, Libya, Egypt, and other countries through unconventional means point to several reasons why the UNHCR have failed and also unintentionally contributed to current refugee crisis in Europe.

UNHCR needs to do more do address the gaps exposed by the refugee crisis in Europe. Countries of the European Union, phase with their own domestic challenges, need to take a more positive stands towards handling refugees and asylum-seekers.

It doesn’t matter whether or not they are Muslims or Christians or Jews!! What matters the most is they are humans like ourselves and deserves the right to a new place they would like to call “home.”

We should also learn to understand that refugees have no choice and their only choice is for us to accept them because they are human beings. No one for any reason other than to escape pain, humans sufferings and death would risk their lives and the lives of their children.

These events like what we continue to see in Europe and other places make me wonder how those in authority think when their actions are purely distant away from their words.

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