ISLAMABAD: Despite being a developing economy, Pakistan hosts 1.56 million refugees – fourth highest number in the world. On the other hand, six wealthiest nations accommodate less than 9pc of the world’s refugees.
This was revealed in a research study undertaken by Oxfam.
The study released here on Monday said the poorer countries shoulder most of the responsibility and the richest countries should do much more to help the world’s most vulnerable people who have fled their homes because of violence and conflict.
The top six countries hosting refugees are: Jordan, 2.80 million, Turkey, 2.75 million, Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2.05 million, Pakistan, 1.56 million, Lebanon, 1.53 million, and South Africa, 1.21 million.
“One way rich countries can welcome the most vulnerable refugees is through resettlement, a process in which refugees are provided with a new start and life in a third country, a different one from the country they have fled and in which they currently live.”
The report said in 2015 the six richest countries resettled just 57,167 people, less than 6pc of the 960,000 men, women and children around the world in desperate need of resettlement that year.
Among these countries, Germany alone hosts over 736,000 people while the US, UK, France, China and Japan are accommodating the remaining 1.4 million.
Oxfam says six wealthiest nations accommodate less than 9pc of world’s refugees
In sharp contrast, half of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers – almost 12 million people – are hosted by Jordan, Turkey, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Africa, whose economies collectively account for less than 2pc of the world’s total.
The number of people forced to flee their homes due to war, violence or persecution is at its highest level since records began.
The conflict in Syria has been a major factor in this increase but people have also fled other conflicts, including in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.
Oxfam said each crisis was complex and driven by a unique set of dynamics, none was inevitable and all were manmade – for it is governments and armed groups fighting over power and resources, from Yemen to South Sudan, that drive tens of millions of people from their homes.
“Neighbouring states and rich countries further afield sometimes fuel those conflicts and wars by supplying arms, or fail to do enough to support inclusive peace processes,” the study said.
The lone example given by Oxfam in the study is: “A surge in weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, including from the UK and the US, which is leading a coalition of nations fighting in Yemen, helped push global arms sales up more than 10pc in 2015.”
However, the research also added that some governments had not only given their ‘fair share’ of aid for those whose lives had been blighted by Syria’s terrible conflict but also welcomed their fair share of Syrian refugees to their countries.
In 2015, the six wealthiest countries gave almost $2 billion in aid to the UNHCR.
“Such aid is vital as it provides refugees with essential shelter, food, water and other support,” Oxfam said, adding: “But providing aid cannot absolve rich countries from their moral and legal responsibilities to welcome more refugees. Aid should not be used by governments to put pressure on developing countries to host refugees and stop people from moving.”
The study said European governments were the architects of the 1951 Refugee Convention but the refugee crisis was exposing the shallowness of governments’ commitment to the international law they claimed to champion.
By trading refugees for political concessions, the EU-Turkey deal fails to respect the spirit of international and European law.
Oxfam said world leaders must heed those messages of solidarity and support, as they plan to meet at two important summits in New York. On September 19, UN member states will attend the first UN summit on large movements of refugees and migrants.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2016