Is there shelter from the storm? Most people know that war is hell; others have been desensitized by movies and war games. However, there is no fiction in reality. Those who have witnessed it know it is no fantasy. In recent years war has come to affect people in every country in one way or another.
An article in the www.nyt.com/2015/20/06 taking its information from the UN (UNHCR) tells us that there are around 60 million refugees in the world. The Economist uses the same figure but gives it a concrete context by linking it to the population of Italy; that’s a lot of people. Side Bar:
- The new term for refugees is ‘displaced persons’. Displaced is a nice word but does not give sufficient gravity to the situation. Running from hell is not exactly being displaced; it’s fleeing for your life. We are not talking of a set of keys that you know will turn up.
There is no shortage of war zones. Middle East: Syria, Yemen and Iraq with the spread of Islamic revolution by ISIS. Sub-Sahara Africa with: Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, with another Islamic group Boko Haram. The surprise area for some will be Columbia in South America.
Why is there such a fire burning around the globe? A main reason is political power as in Syria where the dictatorial Assad regime is in conflict with groups seeking more democratic rights. The consequences are that nearly 50% of the population has been forced to flee their homes. Many have simply fled within the country but some 4 million have scattered abroad.
Neighbours, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and war torn Iraq have taken many Syrians in. The NYT suggest Egypt has 138,000; the Economist says Turkey has 1.7 million. It’s important to get the numbers right as aid being sent to the accommodating nations requires solid numbers to meet the need.
- ISIS has driven an approximate 2.6 million Iraqis from their homes.
The civil war in Syria has affected 5 / 6 of its neighbours directly. However, the ramifications go much further. Thousands have made a dash for Europe or America. For Europe they have travelled to Libya, which itself is in turmoil, to find passage across the Mediterranean Sea. There is not a warm welcome in Europe because in their travels they meet up with other refugees from various parts of the world who are also escaping hell.
It is understandable that they want to flee the hell of their home nations to find the perceived stability elsewhere. The problem is that America is trying on a daily basis to stem the flood of migrants from South America. Europe, in a period of austerity, and a history over the last 20 years of conflict in the Balkans and presently in Ukraine, is panicked by the flow.
The influx of migrants has caused a political storm in Europe, which has seen a rise in radical parties. Politicians can’t ignore this trend. Hungary, is debating whether to construct a 100 mile fence to stop migrants crossing over from Serbia as numbers have increased from 30,000 to 100,000 in the past year. There is a huge cost in both political and financial terms in trying to cope with increasing numbers.
There are many poor people in the UK; some estimates suggest upward of 2.7 million families are affected. A large influx of economic migrants can have a direct impact on the poor by forcing wages down, putting pressure on housing and waiting lists for doctors, dentists etc. Thus little surprise that most poor people will not welcome migrants.
In sub-Sahara Africa an estimated 15 million refugees have been forced from their homes. Ethiopia, houses an approximate 665,000 mainly from Somalia and South Sudan. An interesting point made by the NYT report was that most African refugees stay in Africa. Another point raised by the Economist is that 85% of refugees have sought shelter in developing countries.
It may appear cruel on those fleeing hell but developing nations often don’t have the resources to cope with an influx of refugees. Ethiopia is such a case. This country is still a recipient of foreign aid of over £200 million just to sustain their own population.
Unfortunately, those fleeing horror face further danger of exploitation. Even if they manage to reach the UK or USA they are used as cheap labour or forced into the sex trade. When it comes to humans there is no depth to their barbarity. The continued struggle in Columbia has caused the uprooting of around 6 million, 136,000 in 2014 alone. A further 360,000 have fled abroad to adjoining nations or perhaps trying to reach the USA.
If only there was an easy solution but being tied to politics, fear and cost there is no straightforward option. It is at a time like this that we witness the selfish gene come to the fore and this gene can be very erratic, and cruel.