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Finding home away from home


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More than 60 million people had to flee their homes, in the last year, due to ongoing conflicts in their native regions, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The number is staggering as this is the largest displacement witnessed by the world since World War II. Surprisingly, many countries, especially the ones capable of help, are shirking from their moral responsibility, refusing to acknowledge that we are in a state of war without even going to the front: We are at war with a global crisis, that, if ignored long enough, can very well be the end of us all.

Syria, a country ravaged by its civil war for the past five years, alone has dislocated more than four million people since the beginning of the war in 2011. The displaced are generally turning to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordon, Iraq and Egypt – which are all too close to the ISIS territory to provide ideal shelters. Each year, thousands of men, women and children are trying to escape the horrendous life witnessed by them in their native country. But the majority of them die trying, either from overexposure to extreme weather or poorly thought-out escape routes.

Al Jazeera

Countries like Greece, Germany, and Austria; countries across the Mediterranean per se or UK which are right across the Channel are quite reluctant to let migrants in for their concept of ‘identity politics’ which can play its part in different ways –

First, it is the problem of ‘they are not like us’ which is a concept driven more by myth than substantial apprehension. The strongest economy in the world and arguably the most vigilant of governments, USA, has witnessed only two suspected terrorists out of around 745,000 refugees resettled there, according to a study by The Economist; and even they were not plotting attacks against America but were planning to aid Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Sorry folks! But false alarm on the ‘all refugees are terrorists’, bumper-sticker.

Another way that identity politics becomes a hindrance to aid, which is a relatively greater concern than the previous one, is the sheer number of migrants in a particular place. Research suggests if a particular region has an overpowering number of movers, it changes the ethnoreligious balance of the particular place. This can be avoided by careful consideration of the size of the host country and the number of people taken in by that government. The takeaway being, no problem is complex enough to be independent of a solution, regarded you want one, of course.

Even from the perspective of business, letting the refugee crisis go out of hand is counter-productive. When a large number of people are out of the money cycle, it evidently affects the global economy. The Managing Editor of Quartz News Website, Bobby Ghosh thinks that the giant constructions companies that have built the enormous multi-stories in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh should invest in building shelters for the growing influx of migrants in the Gulf countries.

It is also seen in different governments that a change in political power or an upcoming election makes politicians weary of their standing and thus, saps them of the intention to do the right thing. We have witnessed that, for instance, in German Chancellor Angela Markel’s changing tone towards refugees this year, when the country is moving toward elections with growing resentment of her people. What they must understand is, being myopic in a matter such as this, can be so categorically catastrophic as to handicap their own economy as well. The situation has deteriorated enough that further delay in action will only bring us doom. As the saying goes, ‘the time for action is now’.


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