"...A refugee is a man, woman or child at their most vulnerable: forced from their home, living without the protection of their state, and in many cases without the bare means of survival. It is the human condition that tests our belief that all human beings have equal rights and deserve protection..."

Wise words from an unexpected spokesperson. Very eloquent.


    It is the human condition that tests our belief that all human beings have equal rights and deserve protection

Sadly many don't even seem to have this belief, and many others don't seem to even see the refugees as human beings at all. When someone look different from us, speak a language that sounds like gibberish, and worship a religion that seem like heresy, I think we instinctively see them as lesser people and value their lives less than the lives of those more similar to us. If this really is instinctive, then it's something that need to be unlearned, preferably from a very young age.

Currently there's a right-wing populist wave washing over much of the world, and right-wing populists have no interest in teaching our children that all human lives have the same value, as that would erode their power and influence when those children reach voting age.

Most countries have constitutions that ensure their citizens some amount of human rights, but most countries' constitutions don't apply to non-citizens. Thus those countries are free to ignore the struggles of refugees when it's politically convenient for them, and free to stop them on the borders when they try to enter, and free to send them home when they're caught within their borders. There's probably no easy solution to this. No country alone (or even groups of countries like the EU) have the means to ensure basic human rights for every human on Earth, and the UN doesn't have enough influence over countries to force them all to cooperate on a solution.

So what Jolie here instead suggests is to try to reduce the number of refugees.

    as many as two-thirds of all the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. Peace in any one of those five countries, creating the conditions for people to return home, would bring the numbers of refugees worldwide down by millions. That is what we should be pressing our politicians on as voters: challenging them to answer how their policies address the root of the problem.

One problem is that putting a swift end to war often means supporting people and organisations that we really don't like. Syria was stable and peaceful under the brutal dictator Assad. The quickest way to resolve the conflict would be to help him crush the remaining rebels, but that means supporting a man who has used chemical weapons against his enemies with little regard for civilian lives. It also means turning our back on allies we have supported so far in the war.

Similarly with Afghanistan, it was reasonably stable under the repressive Taliban regime, which still controls parts of the country. Perhaps the best long-term solution would be to support Taliban in their reconquest against the democratic regime we're currently propping up.

Myanmar is different, in that there's no ongoing war. This is one of the countries where I consider diplomacy a potential solution though, as we could potentially pressure their government into recognising the Rohingya and stop persecuting them.

I must admit I'm not very familiar with the situations in South Sudan and Somalia, so I can't really comment on those.

posted by goobster: 210 days ago