Right now, record numbers of people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes.
But instead of showing true leadership and protecting refugees, most countries are slamming their doors shut.
The world’s wealthiest nations are leaving a handful of countries to cope alone with nearly all the world’s 21 million refugees. Powerful media and politicians are manipulating reality and dehumanizing them, portraying refugees as “illegal”, or faceless “invaders” who are “a security threat”.
They’re ducking their responsibility to protect people fleeing violence, persecution and conflict. And every single day that goes by, their indecision and inaction are causing immense human suffering.
But if we can’t rely on our politicians to change the world, we’ll do it ourselves.
William 11, is a refugee living in a camp in northern Kenya. “I was born here in Kakuma, but I know we had a lot in Sudan. We had three houses: one for cattle, a shed and one that we lived in.” © Amnesty International (Photo: Richard Burton)
A chance to start again
Our recent survey of people’s attitudes across the world showed that 80% of us stand ready to welcome refugees into our countries, communities – even our own homes.
Together, we are a movement of people who believe that the things that unite us are far more powerful than those that divide us.
We don’t see refugees as a threat, but as people whose lives are under threat. People who need a safe place to start again and a chance to make a positive contribution.
A man’s neatly arranged belongings at a shelter for migrants in Mexico, 2010. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people take on one of the most dangerous journeys in the world, fleeing relentless violence and deep poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and searching for safety in Mexico and the USA. © Marc Silver
This is our moment
Our response to the global refugee crisis will define what kind of world we and future generations will live in. History will judge us by how we tackled the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.
This is our moment to defend the things that unite us as human beings, and refuse to let fear and prejudice win.
Solving the global refugee crisis starts with each and every one of us making one simple, personal commitment to help – simply by saying: “I welcome refugees”.
Together, we’ll send a powerful message to politicians worldwide to do the right thing and agree a plan to share responsibility for refugees – now.
What is Amnesty calling for?
All countries can help protect refugees through a solution called resettlement, and other safe and legal routes. Resettlement can protect those refugees who are most vulnerable – people who have been tortured, for example, or women at continued risk of abuse. Safe and legal routes are other “pathways” to safety that governments can open up in emergency situations, such as the Syrian refugee crisis. For example, they can offer:
• Family reunification – this means refugees can join close relatives already living abroad.
• Academic scholarships and study visas, allowing refugees to start or carry on studying.
• Medical visas, to help someone with a serious condition get life-saving treatment.
Opening up these opportunities for many more refugees will allow them to travel to new host countries in a safe, organized way.
Ignoring the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time will solve nothing and cause immense human suffering. By agreeing to share responsibility for protecting refugees, governments can show true leadership, invest in people’s lives and futures and bring out the very best in us all.