The world ought to be very concerned about the latest warning from the United Nations Refugee Agency that an unprecedented 79.5 million people across the world were displaced as of the end of 2019. It is also a very big problem that except for one, all countries in the top five hosts of refuges have rather average or small economies, like Turkey, Columbia, Pakistan and Uganda. This number represents almost one percent of the entire world’s population, which is unprecedented in all the years of the UN’s recordkeeping. Since these figures are till the end of last year, a very large number of them are Syrian refugees or people fleeing appalling living conditions in countries like Venezuela. And figures that take into account all the people that are reduced to refugee status because of the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus will no doubt be worse.
It is moments like these that should make all nations, especially developed ones, hang their heads in shame. The Syrian problem, for example, is indicative of what can happen when rich governments join hands with big arms companies and bring death and devastation to the world in the quest of their own political and financial gains. Also, these numbers seem to reflect the forced movement of people across borders only, though someone should also be made to answer for all the misery brought to people in places like Yemen, where they have been tossed all around within the borders because of the cruel war imposed on the country. It is simply unacceptable that in the 21st century, when mankind has advanced so much, such issues continue to dog us. And they might only be statistics for a lot of people at the end of the day, but each number represents a life torn apart or a family ruined forever.
Perhaps, as the world emerges from the fight against the coronavirus, there will be an overwhelming realisation that in the hunt for money and power all of us forget the real value of life. It is very possible with all the resources that have been created in this day and age for all the world to live in peace and harmony. Yet so far the world as a whole has chosen a very different route. Lately, much of the world has also become xenophobic, so it is not really surprising that many of the biggest and richest countries have routinely turned away even the most vulnerable refugees. This trend must change, or the whole world will suffer for it. *