Monday February 24, 2020
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Apathy of refugees: An unending dilemma!

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by Henry Stillwell

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door

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The poem ‘New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus, which is engraved on the Statue of Liberty, bears these words. Images of countless refugees in survival desperation have shocked the world of late.

However, the ‘Land of the Free’ has not pledged any amount of refugee resettlement in the face of the greatest refugee crisis since WWII.

Many things have to happen before the world can expect the refugee crisis to end. First and foremost, civil wars in Syria, Eritrea, and Libya have created situations where families are faced with two choices; flee to the West, or die in your homeland. The West needs to do its part in arranging peace talks, and attempting to bring an end to these crippling wars. Instead of picking sides and supplying weapons, we need to send diplomatic negotiators with peace as the only objective. Secondly, situations of extreme poverty must be alleviated. Another major reason for the current refugee crisis is extreme poverty, lack of access to food and clean water. Billions of people in Africa, Asia, and in the Middle East live on less than two dollars a day. When people who have no money, they face a paucity of clean water; attempt to travel to wealthier nations is often the only option. The West needs to do a better job of leveling the playing field for human species. No human deserves to live without clean water. These should be the long-term goals of wealthy nations, namely, United States in the face of such atrocities.

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In terms of the immediate response, the West must begin to admit more refugees. The United Kingdom pledged to take in 10,000, a drop in the bucket of an estimated 2,000,000 people who have been displaced in Syria, Eritrea and Libya. Clearly, nobody in the European Union has been willing to step up and make commitments based on helping the most refugees possible, as opposed to commitments that make sense financially and politically. However, I feel the country that can and should do the most is the United States. Where would the United States be if we had not taken in swathes of immigrants during the Irish potato famine? The United States is historically a nation of immigrants, a melting pot. The United States is supposed to be the nation where people can seek refuge, and be afforded some basic civil rights. How can the United States be so hypocritical when these are values that every American claims to uphold? These values are enshrined and engraved in our most sacred institutions. They are believed to be the most revered symbols.

Give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?

Here they are!

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    There should be some steps taken to protect these refugees. These people are refugees in their own country, how saddening is that!

Next Story

UN to Allocate More Funds for War Crimes Inquiries in Syria and Myanmar

UN Increases 2020 Budget, Adds Funds for War Crimes Inquiries

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Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony organised to remember the second anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia. VOA

The United Nations General Assembly Friday adopted a $3.07 billion operating budget that for the first time includes funding for the investigation of war crimes in Syria and Myanmar.

The budget represents a slight increase from 2019’s figure of $2.9 billion.

The increase was the result of additional missions assigned to the U.N. Secretariat, inflation and exchange rate adjustments, according to diplomats.

These include the observer mission in Yemen, a political mission established in Haiti, the investigation of crimes committed in Syria since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, and in Myanmar after the 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Syria, Myanmar inquiries

Myanmar Refugees
Rohingya refugees gather near a fence during a government organized media tour to a no-man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh, near Taungpyolatyar village, Maung Daw, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. VOA

For the first time, the budgets for the Syria and Myanmar investigations, which were previously financed by voluntary contributions, will in 2020 be transferred to the U.N. secretariat’s budget and will receive compulsory contributions from the 193 member states.

Russia proposed multiple amendments during negotiations in the Committee on Budgetary Questions meeting and in the General Assembly plenary session.

Dissenters

At each vote, Russia, Syria, Myanmar and their supporters, including North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua and Venezuela, were outvoted. They all stated that they dissociated themselves from references to investigative mechanisms in the adopted resolutions.

Russia said it would examine its future obligatory payments in light of the vote outcome and predicted an increase in the arrears that currently plague the U.N.’s treasury because of countries not paying enough.

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Moscow argued Friday the investigative mechanism was illegitimate, while Damascus stressed that it had no mandate from the Security Council.

The U.N.’s operating budget is separate from the annual budget for peacekeeping operations of some $6 billion that is adopted in June. (VOA)