More displaced people and refugees exist now than ever before, around 60 million people from Syria (over four million refugees, half are children), Afghanistan, Iraq, MENA and Africa by the end of 2014.[i] More than a million refugees traveled to Europe in 2016, and 80,000 arrived by boat during the first six weeks of 2016.[ii] Most are women and children: UNICEF estimates that 30 million children are refugees.[iii] They flee wars and drought, changing the countries where they find refuge including flaming nationalist parties in Europe. A video discusses the problem of recent immigrants to Sweden.[iv] Predictions are climate change will send 200 million more refugees to Europe by 2050.
The refugee children who can’t go to school are called a “lost generation” who have to work to help their families buy food. A British NGO, Save the Children created a film to show what it would be like if an English girl was a refugee.[v] “The global north must be prepared that the global south is on the move, the entire global south. This is not just a problem for Europe but for the whole world,” warned Sonja Licht of the international Center for Democratic Transition.[vi] About 63,000 minors fled Central America to go to the US from 2013 to 2015 to escape from gangs and sexual assault. An additional 800,000 people are trafficked each year in modern slavery, according to the US State Department.
More than 800,000 people had to flee their countries in 2011 due to political upheavals. Millions had to escape from their homes due to wars in Syria, Congo, Somalia, Burma, and Afghanistan. When the people who had to leave their homes but stayed in their countries is included, the total was 4.3 million, the highest number in 11 years, according to the UN refugee agency. Most of these refugees are women and children. Nearly 30 million children are driven from their homes by war and other violence, not just from Syria but Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Honduras, El Salvador, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.[vii]
The number of migrants jumped to 51 million refugees globally in 2014, not including people who fled violence in Iraq caused by battles by radical Sunni militants called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).[viii] This was the most number of refugees since World War II, with the top three sources being Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and Sudan. Most (86%) live in developing countries that are least able to support them. French President Hollande told journalists, if an agreement didn’t emerge from the December, 2015 Paris climate conference, “It won’t be hundreds of thousand of refugees in the next 20 years, it will be millions.” All 195 countries at the conference did agree in December in what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called a good agreement.
[i] “Worldwide Displacement Hits All-time High,” UNHCR, June 18, 2015.
[ii] Katie Reilly, “Rate of Refugees Arriving in Europe Increased in 2016,” TIME Magazine, February 13, 2016.
[iii] Lori Robertson, “Stretching Facts on Syrian Refugees,” Fact Check, September 15, 2015.
“2015 Was the Worst and Best Year for Kids,” UNICEF, December 29, 2015.
[vi] Rod Rod Nordland, “A Mass Migration Crisis, and It May Yet Get Worse,” New York Times, October 31, 2015.
[vii] Jake Silverstein, The Displaced: Introduction, New York Times, November 5, 2015.
[viii] “War’s Human Cost,” UN News Centre, June 20, 2014.