Worsening global forced displacement crisis
Millions of peoples who were forced to leave their homes to escape war, repression, persecution, and conflict in their countries are now facing a severe crisis in various parts of the world. They suffer inhumane conditions, uncertainty, increasing violence and human rights violations. Many are forced to temporarily take shelter in refugee camps while seeking to take asylum in or permanently migrate to other countries. Many refugees who attempt to cross borders to seek asylum are refused entry in violation of the international humanitarian law.
There are approximately 82.4 million forcibly displaced inviduals in the world, almost twice higher than in the previous decade. This means that one out of 95 individuals in the world has been forced to leave behind all belongings and livelihood. Approximately 42% (35 million) of them are children. The figure includes 48 million internally displaced persons (IDPs or individuals who have evacuated from their home but remain in their countries), and 26.6 million refugees or indivuals who are taking sanctuary in other countries. At present, 1.4 million more evacuees are seeking assylum.
Turkey hosts the biggest number of refugees with 3.7 million Syrian refugees. Around 22% or 6.6 million refugees are currently cramped in refugee camps of the United Nations which typically have weak health, water and sanitation systems. The biggest refugee camps are located in the poorest countries including Kenya, Jordan, Bangladesh and Sudan. A big number of refugees who are not accomodated in refugee camps are not covered by benefits given by the UN.
Contrary to international laws, many countries close their borders to deny the entry of refugees who travel by small boats. The starkest of these is the closure of boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea by European countries. This resulted in the drowning of 1,645 refugees this year, majority of whom are from Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Palestine, among others. Since 2014, the death toll and the number of missing refugees in the said sea has reached 22,930. In addition, 166 refugees who attempted to enter the United Kingdom also drowned in the English Channel.
In August 2021, countries neighboring Afghanistan reportedly closed their borders to refugees. Last month, Iraq closed its border with Syria endangering the lives of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. Poland also closed its borders in November 2021 endangering the lives of African and Middle Eastern refugees who passed through Belarus.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the trend of mass displacement has persisted primarily due to the escalation of wars and armed conflicts. In 2020, the total number of forcibly displaced individuals reached 11.2 million, slightly higher than the 11 million evacuees in 2019.
Many of those who attempt to enter boundaries of other countries to seek asylum are shunned or detained like criminals. Far right reactionaries are driving an anti-refugee culture to justify repressive anti-refugee policies. Many countries which deny the entry of refugees commonly reason out that their capacities have already been exceeded.
Displacement due to imperialist attacks
Nearly 60% (15.7 million) of displaced peoples hail from only four countries experiencing wars and armed conflict instigated by the US. Majority of the refugees are from Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Venezuela.
Syria is currently experiencing the worst forcible displacement crisis. Around 11.1 million individuals (6.8 million refugees, and 6.7 million IDPs) evacuated in Syria due to the continuing civil war in the country which began in 2011, instigated by the US in the name of its “war on terror.” The US deployed military advisers, and funded and armed rebel groups to oust the government of Bashar al-Assad. They were forced to evacuate due to the intense armed conflict, and indiscriminate bombings by the US which target civilians.
Afghanistan is facing the longest continuing forcible displacement in the world due to imperialist attacks and intervention in the country in the past four decades. It currently has 6 million evacuees, 2.6 million of whom are refugees and 3.5 million IDPs. The massive evacuation was a result of the two-decade US occupation and war in Afghanistan in the name of “war on terror.” Although its direct occupation has formally ended in August 2021 after the Taliban was able to seize political power, millions of refugees and IDPs are yet to return to their communities, more residents continue to evacuate.
Venezuela has 4.1 million refugees, excluding a huge number of undocumented migrants, who left the country because of the crisis caused by US economic blockades and sanctions in the country. These schemes have caused shortages in food, medicine and other basic services resulting in hyperinflation. During the first nine months of 2021, 47,762 Venezuelan evacuees have been arrested and detained by the US for attempting to cross the boundaries without appropriate documents.
In South Sudan, 2.3 million refugees and 1.87 million IDPs have evacuated due to the US-instigated civil war which has resulted in the founding of the country in 2011. The US has formed and has been funding armed groups in Sudan since 2003 in an attempt to divide the country through armed rebellion to ensure its hegemony over the country. These groups have since split into 30 warring rebel groups, resulting in the violent and continuing armed conflict in the country.