December 18 marks the International Migrants Day. The 2018’s International Migrants Day titled “Migration with Dignity” recognizes that “treating every migrant with dignity is one of the fundamental requirements we face before anything else we attempt on migration.” Indeed, this inherent dignity is the foundational principle of human rights and criterion for evaluating laws, policies, and government actions.
Who is a migrant? There is no uniform definition of a migrant. However, a migrant is generally defined as someone who changes their country of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for doing so. There is a difference between a migrant and a refugee. According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (The 1951 Refugee Convention), a refugee is a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
Every refugee is a migrant but not every migrant is a refugee. The 1951 Refugee Convention imposes several obligations upon states in relation to their treatment of refugees. However, the main obligations are much older and are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the landmark document that reaffirms human dignity for everyone everywhere. For example, in Article 14, it states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
The refugee crisis affects people from many countries, however, the plight of those arriving from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iran, and Ukraine receives the most attention. It affects a diverse cross-section of ethnic and religious groups too. The one thing that all refugees have in common is that they have found themselves in conflict zones and have had to flee for their lives. Depending on the individual circumstances, some groups of refugees may face extra obstacles that prevent them from accessing the necessary services available to refugees. This is particularly visible in the case of minority groups.
The UN estimates that the total number of international migrants has increased from 175 million in 2000 to more than 244 million in 2015. The current refugee crisis, the worst since World War II, has seen over 65 million people forcibly displaced and created an additional 22 million refugees worldwide. Many states have taken more refugees than their infrastructure can (comfortably or at all) cope with. This is certainly the case in Germany, which has received over a million asylum seekers. In 2016 alone, there were 745,545 asylum applications in Germany and over 890,000 in 2015. Despite the generosity of Germany and other states, the demand for safe havens for those fleeing war zones is much greater and very difficult to be satisfied.
In response to the refugee crisis and the failing response to it, on December 17, 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Compact on Refugees, a model that is set to provide a robust and systematic response to address the challenges faced by refugees and the host communities. The Global Compact on Refugees aims to ease pressures on host countries, build self-reliance of refugees, expand on the resettlement and other pathways of admission, aid conditions that would enable refugees to return to their home countries. This is a well-awaited development, in light of the situation of refugees around the world, and most notably, the situation of the Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh.
Genocidal atrocities in Burma have led to the displacement of over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. These refugees have fled to Bangladesh. Among those seeking a safe haven in Bangladesh are approximately 500,000 Rohingya children. Many arrive with visible injuries caused by shootings, stabbings or from fire, many more with hidden injuries in the form of trauma. Many of the girls were subjected to rape and sexual violence. Boys (and also men) were rounded up and taken away. They are now feared dead. This is not the fate any parent would wish for their children. This is not the fate that anyone would want for themselves – abused, dehumanised and forced to flee.
Read more from source: Forbes