The global spotlight on the refugee crisis has been prompted by the
unprecedented migrant wave, not seen even during World War II. And the wave isn’t ebbing. Instead, it continues to grow and has brought in its wake a tsunami-like impact.
How far the New York Declaration adopted at the recent UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants would help in tackling the extraordinary humanitarian crisis is open to debate. However, no one can deny that the meeting was a sort of a watershed moment as for the first time the world leaders came on a common platform to publicly and collectively acknowledge the refugee problem. The pledges and the investments would mean nothing if these don’t bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the migrants and make them feel at home in a faraway foreign land.
One in every 113 people globally is displaced today. The global displacement crisis has swamped the world. Conflicts, lawlessness, lack of income opportunities and poverty are forcing people to flee their homes. Even as the crisis mounts, the divisions over ways to handle the surging tide of migrants are becoming sharper. Many remedies are being floated, which are at best half-solutions. Sadly, very few steps are being taken to get to the root cause of the malady of migration.
Calls for a coordinated response and collaborative approach to migrant crisis are getting shriller. A lot of push is being given to make new policies that are
directed towards the migrants. Funding to integrate and assimilate the newcomers is growing. Money is flowing to resettle people. All this is excellent. But alongside, we need concerted efforts to zero in on the reasons that compel people to look for resettlement. And until the world’s focus shifts to conflict abatement (and ideally prevention), the migration crisis will compound.
We need to direct more efforts in finding out ways toward peace and reconciliation. While marshalling aid to help refugees is fine, we need to mobilize collective action to end the chaos existing in the countries that leads to displacement.
We have to understand that humanitarianism is not just catharsis. It has to go beyond that. Humanitarianism has to be pragmatic. We have to pour in more money and energy to bring stability and security to strife-torn zones. Rule of law has to return to these places. Structural disparities have to go and jobs generated. The world has to work towards achieving these with a spirit of shared
History is replete with cases where long-standing disputes have been brought to an end by sustained action to bridge the gap between the warring groups. Colombia is the latest example of this. FARC and the Colombian government have made peace. Myanmar is also trying to get on the path of peace and reconciliation by ending its decades-old civil war. Ending these conflicts will reduce the refugee count and pressure.
Peace efforts have to be fast-tracked. If we drag on and skirt the real causes, the conflicts will fuel more anti-globalization sentiments, xenophobia and unholy populism. And these will pile increased hardships on the migrants.