Thursday, June 13, 2024

The dwindling fortunes of the world’s growing refugees

As the world becomes more and more conscious of itself politically, economically, socially and even financially and religiously, it has started to find deeper and more inconsistencies within itself.

This discovery of self has caused the breaking down of once revered beliefs among the peoples of the world.

Religion has suffered a great deal, especially Christianity in America where a Crucifix can be prohibited at some schools while Islamic hijabs are permitted.

As the world discovers more of its latent conscience, social and religious morality become targets of blame for human failure to control itself.

African families that used to pride themselves in the extended families that offered safety nets for individual family members during life’s stressful periods now watch helplessly as their families shrink more and more into nuclear units that now exclude very close blood relatives. 

Intolerance has grown as individuals blame someone else for their problems. Even religion, which used to pacify us, offering us hope and enlightening us is now being blamed for the world’s woes and divisions.

The lack of self-respect, of decency, tolerance and the abuse of religion have pushed the world to the brink as is evidenced by the churning out of more and more refugees.

We are always running from something that we, ourselves, created.

Just about every country has sent a political, religious, economic or some kind of refugee somewhere else in the world. The sheer depth of intolerance has removed all lines of reason between peoples and nations.

While some people flee one country to seek refuge and protection in another, others flee to that same country to seek refuge and protection.

I find it a tragic irony that Zimbabwe, a very abusive country that is not at war, has millions of political and economic refugees in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Botswana, Australia, the US and many other countries in between yet, at the same time, Zimbabwe is complaining about thousands of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugees and hundreds of stateless persons (civilians who have been denationalised or whose country of origin cannot be determined or who cannot establish a right to the nationality claimed).

Zimbabwe is host to 10 860 registered refugees and asylum seekers “of which 74 percent are Congolese, 9 percent Mozambicans, 7 percent Rwandese, 7 percent Burundians and the remaining 3 percent being made up of Ethiopians, Eritreans, Malians, Ugandans, Somalis and other nationalities”.

But now, neighbouring Mozambique is, once again, faced with a growing internal military conflict and, in yet another switch of irony, more than 65 000 Mozambicans have flooded into Zimbabwe as refugees ÔÇô just like Zimbabweans once did to Mozambique.

Countries are disgustingly swapping refugees.

When I was at Botswana’s Dukwi Refugee Camp, I found out the irony of being a refugee: that, though from different countries, refugees run from the same evils.

I was a refugee fleeing Robert Mugabe’s government and among my fellow refugees in the camp were hundreds of refugees who had to run because of their support of Mugabe’s presence in the DRC to prop up the late DRC President, Laurent Kabila.

I felt very silly, irritated and angry to be in the same refugee camp with people whose lives had been threatened and disrupted by the same man – although for different reasons.

Few can outgrow the cruelty of being a refugee; it scars you for life yet the world churns out millions and millions of refugees who are not wanted anywhere.

In a 2016 report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that there were “65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, the highest level ever recorded”.

It went on to say that this included “22.5 million refugees, 2.8 million asylum seekers and at least 10 million stateless persons” in addition to “40.3 million conflict IDPs”.

Yes, ‘IDPs’ – a now common acronym that has found its way into the lexicons of our times and which refers to our ‘internally displaced people’ who are forced away from their homes but who do not leave their countries.

Because of the wars in the so-called Middle East region, Jordan hosts 2.7 million refugees, followed by Turkey (2.5 million), Pakistan (1.6 million), Lebanon (1.5 million) and Iran (979, 500).

Refugees do not have the luxury of choosing their destination and that is why people run from one unstable country to another just as Mozambicans run to Zimbabwe for protection while Zimbabweans run to Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa for the same reasons.

Refugees from Ethiopia are just about everywhere in Africa yet Ethiopia itself hosts almost a million refugees while Kenya also hosts Ethiopian refugees.

Both Uganda and the comically named Democratic Republic Of Congo have many of their people as refugees elsewhere in the world yet they both are hosts to over a million refugees.

Even Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, is host to almost half a million refugees.

Instead of abusing, accusing and worrying about refugees, we should be stopping every country from producing refugees.

America does not appreciate refugees yet it supports and assists repressive governments that cause the flight of people into exile.

People just got to live somewhere. If rich countries underwrite those countries in the world that abuse their own citizens, causing the victims to flee to the very countries that are supporting vicious leaders back home, the fault is abroad, not at home. 

People just got to live somewhere.

I am not impressed by the United Nations because it was long ago turned into a mouthpiece of defending abusive leaders while doing nothing about their victims except raising money “to deal with the crisis”.

It is abhorrent that, for financial gain, we create refugees and take the money from nations that would otherwise take care of themselves. And then we turn around and rubbish the lives created by monetary greed when they show up on our doorsteps as refugees.

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world but, years ago, it struck an oil deal with Glencore, a Swiss commodities giant. Two days ago, Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, woke up to the deal.

“We thought it was opportunity — but it was a fool’s bargain,” Deby said. “It was an irresponsible step. I realise that today.”

His country is looking into ways to rectify the deal in its own favour.

The UN’s behavior, the world governments’ behavior and the behavior of the so-called G7, G20 (or whatever great nations there are) must be held accountable for taking without responsibility to the dispossessed.

This is akin to divorce proceedings in which a child is called upon to choose between one of the parents: the two equally most important people in their life.


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