Migration & Refugees

CATEGORIES: March 2017

Contributed by: Dr. Nell Gabiam

Dr. Nell Gabiam is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology whose work focuses on many facets of refugees with a current emphasis on the effects of the war in Syria.  

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According to UNHCR (office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), there are currently 65.3 million forced migrants worldwide, the highest number of forcibly displaced people since World War II. Among them are about 25 million refugees (people forcibly displaced across national borders). It is worth noting that, while much has been made in the news about the impact of the roughly 1 million migrants (a large number of them Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country) who have arrived in Europe since 2015, the vast majority of refugees (more than 80%), are located in the global south (mostly in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia). This is because refugees tend to flee to areas directly surrounding the zone of conflict or upheaval. Because most of these zones are located in the global South, it means that countries in the global North are under less pressure to respond to refugee crises. For example, while Lebanon is hosting close to 1.5 million Syrian refugees, a number that is equal to roughly one fourth of its population, the United States has offered asylum to a dismal 10,000 refugees from Syria since the beginning of the war in that country. Thus, part of understanding why there are currently so many refugees, entails understanding the unequal global response to refugee crises, whereby it is countries with comparatively fewer resources that bear the most responsibility for assisting refugees and helping them return to a normal life.


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