Man-made crisis in particular not only force people to directly flee fighting but also create more refugees. People affected by wars suffer through a nosediving economy and lack of personal safety, and move in search of a more dignified life.
We are witnessing a blurring of traditional boundaries between where refugees are originally from, are travelling through and would like to go to. Responses also differ across the world as countries neighbouring war-torn states struggle to deal with the crisis next door, and states further afield look to protect their own borders rather than show solidarity.
This protectionism exists despite research proving the vast majority of individuals affected by man-made crises only move within the state they live in or to nearby countries – despite wanting to live in more economically advanced regions.
For example, UNHCR statistics shows that more than 4.5 million Syrians are in the three neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and more than 6.3 million are internally displaced by conflict. This highlights how relatively few people displaced by the war in Syria have moved outside the Middle East.
In many regions of the world – particularly in the Middle East and North Africa – human rights violations are forcing people to migrate for their own safety. These violations range from the suppression of freedom of expression, gender discrimination, discrimination against certain sexualities or violations of the right to work and lead a dignified life. Such factors driving migration must be addressed to ensure people move as a choice, not a necessity.
The geopolitical reality of conflicts and the various interests that sustain them must also be acknowledged. States must act to prevent conflicts in the first place by limiting weapon exports and basing their foreign policy on human rights – and not looking to only resolve conflicts after they occur.
Preventing conflicts and building peaceful societies can only be achieved by guaranteeing the respect of human rights, ensuring people are not discriminated against and giving them equal access to the services they need – such as healthcare and education. This begins with countries ratifying and implementing already existing UN human rights laws.
Civil society can play a pivotal role in bridging differences in how separate regions react to man-made crisis and conflict. It can help build peaceful societies and protect the rights of people on the move despite any regional differences in policy.
This is why civil society’s voice must be central to developing the upcoming Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – a new piece of UN legislation on the rights of migrants. The beliefs, opinions and ideas of refugees and migrants should be heard, and they must be recognised as experts on their own situation. What refugees and migrants have to say about their circumstances must be formally channelled into the Compact during its development.
Light must also be shone on how a man-made crisis affects the most vulnerable in society, such as children, women and those already displaced.
The Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts is a programme looking to ensure children are genuinely protected in both upcoming Global Compacts concerning refugees and migration – both in this compact and the Global Compact on Refugees. This will be done by guaranteeing existing commitments which states should already abide by are included in both Compacts, with the Destination Unknown campaign serving on the Initiative’s steering committee.
Protecting the rights of migrants and refugees before crisis strikes in a country is also extremely important. Migrants and refugees must be able to legally establish their status within a country. They must be adequately protected within their host country if a crisis breaks out, and have access to the same assistance as local people.
The interconnectedness of the many crisis across the world today cannot be ignored. Only by aiming to protect migrants and refugees no matter what country or region they are living in can we be sure none of these vulnerable people fall through the cracks – regardless of where the next serious crisis emerges.
About the author: Roula Hamati is Research and Advocacy Officer for the Insan Association, a Lebanese member of the Destination Unknown campaign who protect and promote the rights of refugees and other marginalised groups in the country.You might be interested in other: Blog News
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