In search of home

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

People who have been thrown out of their homes are living in harsh times: they have been made refugees from political calamities. Perhaps power-hungry divisions in politics are reckonings of a new catastrophe. Dogmas have become fanaticism.

These homeless asylum seekers run in thousands and cannot find peace of home, own traditions, culture and of being close to the native soil anymore. These perilous journeys also require courage, hope and even luck to avail new opportunities in life and bread for their wailing families.

Since the beginning of 2014, fighting in Iraq's Ramadi displaced about 2.8 million Iraqis. In 2013, about 40,000 South Sudanis were waiting to get transported from Sudan, where they live in appalling conditions in Khartoum - area squatter camps. All this operation to transport them back requires atleast $20 million, according to the report from Office of the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs of UN Secretariat. 

According to UN World Food Programme report in 2014, there wasn’t ample food to feed atleast 30,000 people for a month from Iraq to Qamishli. There are about three million people in hard to reach areas, of whom 242,000 in besieged areas are without any humanitarian access till the present moment.

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan has grown from a town of tents into a bustling city which hosts atleast 81,000 refugees from Syria. It has now become the ninth biggest city in Jordan. Over 20,000 also live in the newer Azraq refugee camp, while the rest struggle to survive in cities with UN cash and assistance.

Some 12,000 Somali migrants have been deported to Somalia since the beginning of 2014 by Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch group had criticized the actions of the Saudi government. The International Organisation for Migration says that Saudi Arabia is planning to deport another 30,000 Somalis in a campaign to remove undocumented workers.

Atleast 42 illegal African migrants drowned in the Yemeni southern coast in 2014. The International Organisation for Migration has further said that about 7,000 migrants have died at sea while crossing to reach a safe haven in 2013. Out of these, atleast 2000-5000 Africans have died while crossing the Sinai peninsula to Israel and the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen.

Sectarian violence in the  former French colony of Central African Republic killed thousands in 2013, and UN has evacuated almost 100 Muslims from the regions of Bangui to the town of Bambari, some 300 kilometers from the capital.

In an attempt to reach Italy, about 170,000 migrants have managed to reach the country by sea this year. Around 3,500 have perished in the sea in the process. Italian coastguards and merchant ships have rescued atleast 1000 migrants from overcrowded boats near the coast of Libya. Around 1,500 people were picked up from five boats in April this year. Infact, Mediterranean deaths, especially from the Channel of Sicily have passed to 2000 this year.

Italy and Greece are struggling to deal with newly arrived immigrants.  Austria, on the other hand, has stopped giving asylum requests to refugees, in an attempt to pressure other European nations to accept the new wave of refugees. As Asylum requests in Austria rose upto 160 percent, the country is seeking a fixed quota scheme on migrant arrivals.

Some 3,000 migrants live near the Eurotunnel under sea rail link between France and the United Kingdom in a makeshift camp known as ‘the jungle’, where migrants try every night to board trucks to reach to Britain without permits.

Turkey, infact, has introduced strict measures to tackle the refugee influx from Syria, due to fighting between Kurds and Daersh terrorists. Israel has also rejected a call to take Syrian refugees. There also was an outcry on social media when a dead body of a young boy was found at a beach, off the shores of Bordem, Turkey.

Germany has also recorded atleast 300,000 asylum seekers, since the start of this year. Economic growth has made Germany a leading destination for migrants who are fleeing war, persecution and poverty. Spain also wants to do more for refugees.

Infact, Amnesty International believes that due to political reservations, countries like Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are deliberately closing their borders, due to burdening economic crises, and are thereby pushing back these people into the conflict, which is a direct violation to international obligations. Hungary is also fearing to become a minority country in this refugee crises.

In June 2015, EU had infact agreed to relocate atleast 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece in the next two years, mostly from Syria and Iraq who are currently living out of European Union, which would replace unpopular quotas for each country. All in all, there has been a 149 percent jump of migrants by land and sea.


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