he recent UN report stating that the world’s refugees now equal almost 60 million, the equivalent of the population of Italy and the highest it has ever been in recorded history, only scratches the surface of bleak statistics. Of those 60 million, 14 million were added in 2014 alone. Today, and everyday, approximately 45,000 join the ranks; the equivalent of a newly displaced San Diego every month. Only more dismal, is the realization that over half of all of them are under the age of 18. The most depressing numbers of them all? A mere 127,000 of the 14.4 million displaced in 2014 (less than 1%) have returned to their home countries. The civil war in Syria is easily the biggest influence in the swelling numbers, but it is certainly not the only problem region. Iraq, Burma, Ukraine, Colombia, Pakistan, South Sudan, and more all playing host to respective conflicts that are forcing hundreds of thousands to millions to flee for their lives. In 2013, the statistics weren’t much better, but the sad fact of the matter is that “refugees usually make it into the headlines only when they try to storm the ramparts of the developed world.” It took the drowning of hundreds of refugees seeking safety in Europe for the continent to even acknowledge the crisis. It is the countries without the means who step up to the plate.
From Syria, for example, the US has taken in a whopping 700 refugees, out of 4 million. For every 10 refugees, 9 are taken in by developing countries, and of the top host countries by refugees per capita, the first 8 are relatively poor. Without any money or resources to speak of, and absent even the voting power of a citizen, refugees “are truly the most disenfranchised people on earth.” It seems there is but one legitimately powerful player, economically or politically, willing to take an interest in the lost millions: Pope Francis. In 2013, the Pope condemned what he called the “globalization of indifference.” As bad a picture as the latest UN report paints, it gets worse. The current classification of refugees ignores those who flee as a result of environmental factors. Their inclusion would balloon the numbers beyond belief. Clearly, to address the refugee crisis we must address the root causes: war, persecution, and environmental degradation. That necessitates money, policy, and diplomacy. Above all else, however, as the Pope indicates, we need to be there for our world neighbors for the simplest of reasons: these are not just numbers, but human lives.
Italy threatens EU with ‘plan B that would hurt’ if no solidarity in migrant crisis by PBS