Refugee catastrophe worst since WWII

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The number of refugees abandoned to “an unbearable existence” has now reached tens of millions according to a damning report from Amnesty International, which claims the world is witnessing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Amnesty International is urging world leaders to radically overhaul their refugee policies and create a comprehensive global strategy to handle the crisis. It accused leaders of having abandoned millions to “an unbearable existence” while leaving thousands more to die by failing to provide basic human protections to people fleeing their homes.

The report focuses on the crisis in Syria and estimates that more than four million people have now fled the country due to conflict, 95 per cent of which are living in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, which are in turn struggling to cope with the influx. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees now account for one in five people.

It claims these host countries have received “almost no meaningful international support” and that the UN’s humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was only 23 per cent funded by 3 June this year.  The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes exceeded 50 million in 2013, Amnesty International said, while millions more have been displaced due to the conflict and crises across the globe, it claimed in The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Conflict.

941664_536291496412532_2043978320_n“We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis of our era, with millions of women, men and children struggling to survive amid brutal wars, networks of people traffickers and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said in a statement. She said the refugee crisis is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, “but the response of the international community has been a shameful failure”.

The report also cited the refugee crisis in Africa, where people fleeing conflict and persecution in countries such as South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and the Burundi have added “hundreds of thousands” to the refugee populations currently living in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

This article by Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, with additional reporting by PA, originally appeared in the Independent 

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