“WE ARE HUMANS TOO”
Democracy is the most celebrated form of governance in the modern world. The real question is, would they have let you vote if voting would have made a difference? The requirement of our education system would suffice if they taught how man evolved from apes or how man is a distinctive animal but the lust and greed of man from time immemorial have led to what we call today as nation-states, citizens, coloured men, blacks, and whites and so on.
The labelling has never stopped. One such labelling is of people that are covered under the umbrella of the term ‘refugee’. The very basis of your existence is determined by one’s citizenship. The very basis of being a recognized human is to prove your existence based on some paper rather than existing yourself.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines refugees as people who have fled war, violence, conflict, or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country. Refugees are defined and protected under international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention is a key legal document and defines a refugee as:
“someone unable to or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”
The question that arises here is what is your country? The one in which you are born? Or the one where you end up getting settled? Globalization and liberalization have led to a global network that connects every nation-state and its citizens.
One gets the right to choose for themself. When you start earning you get the potential to decide whether you want to settle in America as an American citizen or remain in your birth land.
The irony is that it is a piece of documentation that decides your existence. Imagine a natural disaster situation where all buildings get destroyed or a massive tsunami washes off every last evidence of your existence? How are you to be defined then, within the boundaries of your nation? The feeling of alienation and helplessness in such a situation is exactly what millions of Syrians face today.
The war ignited as a civil war within the nation under the harsh regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which now has been going on for more than a decade. The world has observed a large number of displacement of people, extensive violation of human rights, and probably never-ending political propaganda.
While the rights of refugees are stated under Articles 12 - 30 of the Refugee Convention. It sets out the rights which individuals are entitled to once they have been recognized as Convention refugees some of the rights are: Free exercise of religion and religious education, free access to the courts, including legal assistance, access to elementary education, etc.
It is stated that the refugees are to be treated like the nationals of the host state. however, the ground reality is far from different. The right to protection, although not defined as a separate right as such, is implicit in the 1951 Convention and its fundamental provisions, particularly the principle of non-refoulment. In addition, many universally recognized human rights are directly applicable to refugees. The refugee crisis has become an important part of human rights violations.
Pakistan is facing the same criticism for its efforts to forcibly return a number of its 2 million Afghan residents, some of whom have been in the country for years. A clampdown on refugees from Syria coming into Jordan – a country that already hosts a million Syrians – has left 75,000 people stranded in a desert within no man’s land between the two countries.
It has been seen as a prominent behaviour of the host states to send back the refugees to their native state where they face threat to their life. Living in asylum camps is not easy for them. They face constant violence, sexual harassment, poor living conditions, and a lot more at the hands of their host nation as well.
The Syrian refugee crisis is in the limelight for more than a decade. Fearing for their lives Syrians are fleeing to neighbouring countries for refuge. This mass movement due to the threat to life has created economic and political challenges in the fragile region. The Syrian crisis has been the longest in dispute and discussion but one cannot be indifferent to other parts of the world. People attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar fleeing religious persecution into Bangladesh and India, and thousands of Dominicans stateless in the Caribbean.
The situation is not getting any better. Getting out of the state of terror is just one step the fight is never-ending for these stateless people. Treated like scavengers, devoid of basic human rights. One shall always feed their own first then the other and hence, such differential treatment.
The bleak situation in Syria has now become global political propaganda. What started as a civil war has now taken the course of self-interested regimes bidding on their party.
According to the UNHCR - 1,014,836 people made it into the EU Zone by sea routes alone in 2015, and 3,771 either went missing or died trying. 85 per cent came from the world's top 10 ‘refugee-producing’ countries. These people are on the move to nations that are open-heartedly welcoming refugees and have good asylum facilities.
Brice de le Vigne, Director of Operations for the Médecins Sans Frontières has said that “Not only did the European Union and European governments collectively fail to address the crisis, but their focus on policies of deterrence along with their chaotic response to the humanitarian needs of those who flee actively worsened the conditions of thousands of vulnerable men, women, and children,”.
The actions of Europe have only worsened the conditions of fear-inflicted people. They provided no alternative to the dangerous sea crossing and even ended up erecting wired electrical fences. Amidst this pandemic where the world economy has been hit the hardest, less has been done to improve quarantine conditions for the refugees.
The issue is similar all across the globe and treatment by these so-called humanitarian nations is similar to the treatment of animals. Nobody wants to leave their home never to return. The situations become so threatening that leaving everything is the only option. Humans will remain humans irrespective of their caste, creed, colour, gender, or nationality. It is in these times that they are brought down to the status of ‘refugee’ or the ‘others’ and treating them like non-terrestrial beings. These people who have been termed IDP or refugees have a name; they were recognized citizens of a country until situations worsen.
We have globalised our world to get a global connectivity network where every nation is linked with one another. It becomes a responsibility of the entire human community to take such matters on a first-hand basis.
The sudden influx of a large number of undetermined populations in any state causes an imbalance in the state machinery. The burden of population, increased number of people to feed, security of one’s nation, and peace become a concerning factor for every nation.
The issue of refugees and war victims cannot solely be burdened on the neighbouring nations; it must be a collective responsibility of the entire federation of nations. Replacing these people and treating them equally should be an undeniable obligation on every nation-state.
Dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis which started as a civil war in today's global propaganda. Interested parties are funding their players for personal benefits. The Middle East has always been a hot zone, a centre of tussle. If you strip them of their homes and close all their options to return it is the responsibility of these politically greedy criminals to compensate.
These people are humans too. They bleed blood and have emotions. The growing xenophobia, religious disparity, threat on the economy and sovereignty, and the pressure on resources on host nations, but no one is completely independent today. The USA is dependent on technology and tools from Japan, India is a global feeder. Every nation is codependent and hence, taking combined responsibility for such mass displacement and the violation of human rights is the need of the hour.
 Why won’t the world tackle the refugee crisis?, available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/17/world-will-not-face-up-to-refugee-crisis-un-obama  Chris McKenna and Brennan Hoban, Problems and Solutions to the International Migrant Crisis, Dec 18,2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/12/18/problems-and-solutions-to-the-international-migrant-crisis/  Overview of the refugee crisis in Europe, 5-1-2021, available at https://www.msf-me.org/overview-refugee-crisis-europe  Obstacle course to Europe: EU policiesdramatically worsened the 2015 refugee crisis, available at https://www.msf-me.org/article/obstacle-course-europe-eu-policies-dramatically-worsened-2015-refugee-crisis