Amnesty International report claims more than 50 million refugees now displaced in 'worst crisis seen since WWII'

Amnesty International has accused world leaders of abandoning millions to ‘an unbearable existence’

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Monday 15 June 2015 12:11
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Syrian refugees wait for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey
Syrian refugees wait for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey

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, hosted online by the Guardian, 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.

Turkish security forces used water cannon and fired warning shots to push Syrians back from the frontier as thousands massed at a border crossing to escape escalating fighting

A Syrian refugee in Piraeus, near Athens

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.

“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.

Turkey has taken in some 1.8 million Syrian refugees since the conflict erupted in 2011 (Photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

A Syrian child holds a drawing as he waits to disembark from Belgian Navy vessel Godetia in Italy

Amnesty International is calling for an international summit on the global refugee crisis; a global ratification of the Refugee Convention; for states to guarantee fundamental rights and access to services for refugees; an absolute commitment from states to prioritise saving people in distress over implementing immigration policies; to combat trafficking; to fulfil all resettlement needs identified by the UNHR and to combat xenophobia in countries receiving refugees.

Additional reporting by PA

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