by John J. Metzler
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
UNITED NATIONS – In an impassioned appeal to the media, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres decried the rising tide of refugees worldwide, but advised that ultimately political solutions to the crises remain the key to stem the tide creating chaotic human displacements.
While more than 65 million people around the world are victims of a score of conflicts, both humanitarian assistance and preventive diplomacy to solve these calamities are needed now.
“Now we are witnessing the largest number of refugees ever,” the Secretary General stated glumly while adding that while developed countries have carried an enormous burden to aid the ongoing humanitarian emergencies, it was largely overlooked that smaller and poorer states have carried a disproportionate burden.
Secretary General Guterres is painfully aware of this expanding crisis having served nearly a decade as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees and earlier Portugal’s Prime Minister.
Sadly we know the conflicts: Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Significantly the Secretary General stressed that countries of first asylum, namely states bordering a particular crisis, now host 80 percent of the refugees. In Lebanon one third of the population are fleeing Syrians. Turkey and the Kingdom of Jordan host huge numbers too.
In 2015, Uganda hosted a half million refugees; today the small Central African state has 1.3 million mostly from South Sudan. Kenya and Ethiopia house large numbers too from Somalia. These are societies, “that are poor, that lack resources, that have huge development gaps and huge development problems.”
Guterres is appalled that “global political populism, Xenophobia, racism in which refugees become a target.” He advised that while refugees are often accused of promoting terrorism, refugees “are the first victims of terror, they are fleeing terror; that is why they are refugees.” Continue reading