Wednesday, June 22, 2016

So many displaced people ...

From The Soufan Group, a summary of a United Nations report:

• A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report released on June 20 showed the highest ever documented number of refugees: 65.3 million people

• The number includes refugees who have fled their home countries, internally displaced persons forced from their homes, and those claiming asylum

• One out of every 113 people on Earth have been forced their homes; such statistics fail to quantify the scope of tragedy and instability stemming from the crisis

• Only 201,400 refugees returned to their home countries in 2015—a highly discouraging sign.

... While the scale of the crisis is global, only a handful of countries are driving the exodus. More than half of the refugees in 2015 came from Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Likewise, the burden of caring for these unprecedented numbers of refugees is concentrated; Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon bear most of the burden. Pakistan and Lebanon have dealt with massive numbers of refugees for decades, while Turkey’s experience is more recent and stems from the Syrian civil war. Per capita, Lebanon houses the most refugees by far: 183 refugees per 1,000 residents. The scale of the refugee crisis in Europe is enormous and destabilizing, but it pales in comparison to the endless crisis in the Middle East and parts of Africa.

The British journalist Henry Porter recounted an anecdote to emphasize that it's not only war that has forced people to move.

Walking down a food line on the Greek island of Lesbos during the winter, I was astounded to find young men from Sub-Saharan Africa and as far in the east as Bangladesh. Among them were two agricultural workers from Iran, which struck me as odd because I hadn’t associated their country with the sort of crises that explained the presence of the others in the line.

But once you know about Iran’s climate, it isn’t so surprising. There have been only three years in the last 25 when the country did not record a decline in rainfall. The shortfall has usually been met by using groundwater, but this is drying up. Iran has used 70 percent of its supplies of groundwater in the last 50 years, which means it will have very little to fall back on over the next 20 years.

In the south east of the country, for example, a landscape that was once green with pistachio groves is rapidly becoming barren because the aquifers are running dry. About 15 percent of the pistachio groves in the area have died in the last ten years, and there is absolutely no hope of reversal in that trend.

Quite simply, the water has gone and rains will never replace it.

For once it is not about oil and empire -- this displacement is also about water and climate change.
***
Meanwhile, here in San Francisco, 58 people in the Mission lost their homes in a fire last weekend. There's almost no such thing as finding another place to live in the city. Mission Local has a page explaining how to help.

2 comments:

Classof65 said...

While my husband and I would be willing to "foster" a baby refugee while its family was becoming settled into a stable living situation we are not in a financial situation to foster an entire family while they located housing and work. Despite our good intentions, we just do not have the resources to help that we would have had prior to 2008. In fact, we are just barely making it now ourselves on Social Security since our finances suffered a huge setback in the recession. The money we had set aside for our retirement was decimated. I do think we could foster a small child, however -- but I'm not seeing our government even asking for this kind of help.

Instead, I think the government has in mind "displaced people camps" like those utilized after WWII in which the DPs live in tents in muddy campgrounds with sanitation problems, social problems (rape, theft, etc.), lack of education for children and adults who need to learn English as soon as possible as well as work skills... So far I have not heard or read of any concrete plans for refugees in America. If you know of such projects, please write about them and we'll see if we can possibly help.

Hattie said...

I think the carnage in Syria is the number one humanitarian crisis today. I'm hoping Hillary Clinton will be unafraid to intercede with diplomacy and even boots on the ground if necessary. Thinking we can ignore that situation is a fantasy. It was our country that destabilized the Middle East, and for us to turn our backs now is unconscionable. Doing nothing is the most dangerous option.
It's reading the article about Syria in the latest New Yorker that leads me to this conclusion.

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