Millennium Post

Fleeing for survival

The plight of the displaced individuals and the refugees across the world has never been worse. In several ways, statistics seem to surpass even those circulating during the Second World War. At a time when better sense ought to have prevailed with the lessons of history looming before us, it is back to the old ways of doing away with humanism. To cite instances, a record 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide by the end of 2016, reports the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) —a number higher than the UK's entire population. The figure—300,000 more than in 2015—consists of more than 40.3 million internally displaced people, 22.5 million refugees and 2.8 million asylum seekers, according to the UNHCR's annual Global Trends survey. The conflict in Syria alone has displaced 12 million people overall, meaning that 65 per cent of the country's entire population is either internally displaced or have become refugees outside the country. And, with more bombings having resumed, matters are set to get worse. South Sudan saw the fastest-growing population displacement situation in 2016, with a total of 3.3 million people fleeing their homes, according to the report. These figures show an abject failure of diplomacy. The affected have nothing to lose as they seek safer pastures for survival. Worse, some were subjected to the unimaginable predicament of being sold off as slaves in Libya. Even after this horror was exposed, little was done to punish the culprits. Many have perished while trying to flee to a new land that they intended to make their home. But citizens of "host countries" are reluctant to have anything to do with them. Many simply do not want strangers to mingle and work among them. That is why someone like German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw a sizeable portion of her voters and the electorate opting for the new Far Right. Cobbling up a new coalition, therefore, is posing quite a stiff challenge for her. After visiting the "Jungle" at Calais that refugees found "unacceptable", French President Macron is determined to persuade Prime Minister Theresa May to be more accommodating of those in distress, during his forthcoming State Visit to the United Kingdom. Add to this, the plight of the Rohingyas whose treatment by the military tormentors in Myanmar has been deemed as "ethnic cleansing". Bangladesh, where the tormented have camped, has announced that it would return all of them to Myanmar in precisely two years. That, given the reluctance of the authorities in Yangon, is easier said than done. That there should be never-ending conflicts, merciless bombings and torture are both reprehensible and avoidable. Indeed, to get at a few, why bomb a city to rubble? Why create a situation where those that survive are left with no option other than to flee their homes and homeland? But since the harsh reality stares at us in the face, member states of the United Nations must rise to the occasion. A few have. Most choose not to. Therein lies the tragedy.
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