The World Has Lost the Will to Deal With the Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II

The World Has Lost the Will to Deal With the Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II
A child migrant from Central America waits outside the U.N.’s office that is dedicated to supporting refugees, in Tapachula, Mexico, June 3, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

Disturbing scenes emanating from detention centers along the southern U.S. border have underscored the Trump administration’s indifference to the suffering of strangers, even young children seeking asylum. Unfortunately, the current administration in Washington is far from alone in scorning those seeking refuge in foreign lands. The world is in the midst of a global crisis of displacement, one that is testing both established humanitarian principles and the will of wealthy countries to ease the plight of those affected. This calamity shows no signs of abating. The world is utterly failing to assist and protect those most in need.

Late last month, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, announced that its global caseload had topped 74.8 million people in 2018—up from 43 million just five years earlier. Some 41.4 million of these individuals are internally displaced persons, or IDPs, uprooted from homes but still within their country, while another 20.4 million are refugees, having crossed international borders. The remainder includes 3.9 million stateless persons lacking recognized nationality, 3.5 million registered asylum-seekers, and 2.9 million recently returned refugees and IDPs.

Unsurprisingly, violence is the single biggest driver of displacement. In Africa, refugees and IDPs have almost tripled over the past decade, thanks to chronic conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. The Americas, meanwhile, face “a displacement situation of complexity and magnitude not seen in decades,” according to the U.N. More than 3 million people fled Venezuela in 2018. Most of them arrived in Colombia, which was already grappling with 7.8 million IDPs of its own. To the north, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans have sought asylum in the United States to escape rampant gang violence and abusive governments.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to WPR’s fully searchable library of 16,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news and analysis from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • The Weekly Wrap-Up email, with highlights of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review