World leaders blamed for extent of refugee crises

World leaders blamed for extent of refugee crises
Amnesty International has accused the world's richest countries of 'moral failure' for their inadequate response to the deteriorating refugee situation, outlining an eight-point-plan in response to the global crises.
3 min read
12 October, 2015
Many people are risking their lives to escape conflicts in their home countries [AFP]

A leading human rights group has blamed "the catastrophic moral failure of world leaders" for the extent of the multiple global refugee crises, as several hundred thousand people continue to flee conflicts in their home countries.

London-based group, Amnesty International, made its scathing statement Monday, as it released an eight-point plan to respond to the global refugee crises.

     The unprecedented multiple global refugee crises are leaving millions of people in desperation, but the response of the wealthy countries is a catastrophic failure
- Salil Shetty, Amnesty International

"The unprecedented multiple global refugee crises are leaving millions of people in desperation, but the response of the wealthy countries is a catastrophic failure," said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

"This is a pivotal moment which will define current world leaders' legacy for generations to come – history will judge them very harshly unless they change course," Shetty added.

The global situation has been exacerbated by conflicts in Arab states, including Syria, Iraq, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Other NGO's have voiced similar concerns.

On October 7, Oxfam said that the international community was proving utterly inadequate in helping Syrians both inside and outside their country.

Amnesty argued that the response of the world's richest countries has been particularly shameful, especially their failure to respond to appeals for humanitarian aid and to resettle vulnerable people.

It argued that wealthy countries have offered resettlement places to only around a tenth of those who need them. This forces poorer countries to carry the burden with 86 percent of the world's total 19.5 million refugees being hosted by developing countries.

"The international refugee protection regime drawn up as a crucial safeguard after World War II risks being left in tatters if world leaders continue in their deplorable failure to protect vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution. Refugees have an international right to seek and enjoy asylum," said Amnesty.

Humanitarian appeals for refugees are chronically underfunded.

Amnesty's 8-point-plan in response to the refugee crisis:
1. Continuous, sufficient and predictable funding for refugee crises.
2. Fulfilling all resettlement needs identified by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
3. Safe and legal routes for refugees.
4. Saving lives.
5. Ensure access to territory for refugees arriving at borders.
6. Combat xenophobia and racism. 
7. Combat trafficking.
8. Global ratification of the Refugee Convention and developing robust domestic refugee systems.

On October 2, the UN's humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was only 46 percent funded, while the appeal for South Sudan refugees was only 17 percent funded.

At the end of September, the ICRC announced a record budget shortfall of $82 million due to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

The lack of funds is stopping refugees accessing vital humanitarian aid, including food and medicines.

"When the G20 leaders meet next month in Turkey they should not leave the room until they have a concrete plan with clear timelines to guarantee full and sustainable humanitarian funding for the world's multiple refugee crises; anything less will be an utter failure of leadership," said Shetty.

Instead of trying to support refugees, many of who are risking their lives to escape conflict, some governments have focused on ways to keep refugees outside their borders, Amnesty added.