Geneva - There is no debate about the magnitude of the refugee crisis the world now faces. In its 2014 global-trends report, “World at War,” released just this month, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the last year has seen the highest number of forcibly displaced people since it began keeping records. “We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Most of the ensuing discussion has focused on the immediate crisis of the moment: how to stop smugglers, which countries should accept how many asylum seekers, how host countries can better cope with the influx, how much money is needed from donor countries.
However, there is an ever-growing problem that in the long run will exact an even higher price: the expanding proportion of refugees and forced migrants for whom displacement has become a chronic state. In fact, the average period of time that a refugee spends out of his or her country now is 10 years.
In this report, we focus on Lebanon—an overwhelmed host nation with more refugees per capita than any other country in the world, as well as the oldest population of long-term refugees (the Palestinians, living in limbo for 60 years now). By the end of 2014, Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees in relation to its national population, with 232 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Fueling this crisis in Lebanon and elsewhere is Syria, the world's biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.88 million at the end of 2014). If the number of refugees continues to rise as expected, the Syrian conflict could result in the largest mass exodus of citizens from any country in the world since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
However, this needed focus on Syrian refugees must not be allowed to condemn the Palestinians living in Lebanon and subject to severe discrimination
There is an almost total lack of attention to or dialogue about the 5 million Palestinians living in a state of perpetual limbo in the Occupied Territories or as refugees elsewhere—including about 450,000 registered with UNRWA. This longest-in-history warehousing of human beings, more than 60 years, is a moral travesty and it is time to put it to an end.
Euro-Med Monitor calls on international governance bodies and donors to:
- Eliminate ‘begging’ from the equation.
- Incorporate capacity building and grassroots development into their programs and funding from the very beginning.
- Plan from the “bottom up” instead of “top down”—meaning making it required to include beneficiaries in all phases of development and implementation.
- Better support host countries—and demand that standards are met.
- Spread the burden with dramatically increased opportunities for resettlement.
- The special case of the Palestinians: Restore their human rights.
Click here to read the full report