Newspapers like to write “today we celebrate world refugee day” but really, there’s no reason to celebrate. Numbers of refugees – especially for climate reasons – will increase in the coming years and their chances for a better life are small.
Here a some numbers: Spain – generally known as a rather open country for migrants refused 74% of asylum seekers in 2011. Similar numbers can be found in France, the European country with the most Asylum requests. In Switzerland the number of refused asylum-applications is even around 84% – and Switzerland is working on tightening the protection of refugee law. Similar numbers apply to Germany and probably most other European countries. Norway granted asylum to 52% of migrants – that’s still one out of two who did the dreadful travel to the promised land in vain (still the illustration above is not really fair, sorry for showing a distorted picture).
But what is the alternative for the people fleeing from hunger, war and prosecution? Refugee camps are definitely not an alternative. Take this example: “Sudanese refugees have started dying as a camp in South Sudan ran out of water four days ago after a massive influx of people fled across the border to escape war and hunger.”
More bad news, we are also cutting those people off their food supply now. Making refugee camps even less of a protection: MundoNegroDigital writes that the United Nations World Food Programme is cutting the food supplies for refugees living in four African camps in half. The affected camps lie in Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda and are home to more than 150’000 people. “Incluso con la ración completa no teníamos suficientes” (even with the full ratios didn’t we have enough), says Irin Sanky Kabeya, a resident of the Dzaleka camp in Malawi. The result is constant hunger in addition to the already harsh reality of the camps.
Unfortunately, the number of people living in these camps is constantly rising: the UNHCR writes: “amid continuing instability and bursts of fighting in eastern Congo, civilians keep crossing into Rwanda – where the number of arrivals since late April has passed 10,000 – and south-west Uganda” – exactly where the food supplies are being cut. Many camps in Africa cannot take any more refugees like for example Dadaab – the largest refugee camp in the world. Doctors Without Borders describe the people in Dadaab as broken. From Irin we get a good summary of the situation in the Kenyan camp: “Dadaab, originally built to house 90,000 refugees, currently hosts close to 500,000; management of the camp was handed over to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the early 1990s. Stakeholders say with more refugees arriving daily, it is becoming increasingly difficult to run: It now has a bigger population than Nakuru, Kenya’s fourth largest city, and is the biggest refugee camp in the world.” Nobody knows what should happen to the mainly Somalian refugees living since 20 years in Dadaab but in the camp there is no future. “Bare Osman Abdi, the Dagahaley Youth vice-chair, described the camp as an ‘open prison’ for many, some of whom have not left since arriving 20 years ago. ‘We believe the Somalis’ case has been forgotten,’ he said, appealing to the government to review the employment act that prevents Somali refugees from working in Kenya.”
There are so many more stories to be told around the topic of “refugees” but there are hardly any happy stories. But we can make them happen, by opening our borders and reducing the suffering of the people.