Rich countries are doing less than poor countries to help refugees, Amnesty says

PHILIPPE HUGUEN, AFP | A participant with a placard reading 'Migrants welcome' poses in front of French riot police during a march in support of migrants and refugees in the Calais 'Jungle', France, on October 1, 2016

A report released Tuesday by Amnesty International accuses rich countries of doing less than their fair share for the world’s refugees while poorer countries are overburdened, with 86% of all refugees currently sheltered in developing countries.


Just 10 countries host more than half (56%) of the world’s 21 million refugees, says the report, entitled "Tackling the Global Refugee Crisis - From Shirking to Sharing Responsibility". But the top hosts are not the world’s richest countries and account for just 2.5 percent of global GDP.

"For example, the UK has taken in fewer than 8,000 Syrians since 2011, while Jordan – with a population almost 10 times smaller than the UK and just 1.2% of its GDP – hosts more than 655,000 refugees from Syria," the report notes.

None of the top 10 host countries are in the European Union or North America, Amnesty found. The country that hosts the most refugees is Jordan, with more than 2.7 million. Turkey is in second place with over 2.5 million refugees followed by Pakistan, with 1.6 million.

“A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbours to a crisis,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a press release Tuesday. “That situation is inherently unsustainable.”

Measured in terms of refugees per capita, wealthy countries still don’t make the top of the list. The country with the most per 1,000 inhabitants is Lebanon (183) followed by Jordan (87). Of the top 10 hosts per capita, only two are in the EU – Sweden and Malta – and they are at the bottom of the global list, with each hosting 17 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants.

The report comes in the wake of a September 19 UN General Assembly summit that aimed to forge a plan to address the migrant crisis. But according to Amnesty the UN did not agree on any meaningful action during the assembly. Instead, the world body “collectively, and spectacularly, failed the 21 million refugees of this world”.

‘The only way’

Professor Jenny Phillimore, who studies migration at the University of Birmingham, agreed with Amnesty’s findings.

“[There is a] reliance on poorer nations to respond to humanitarian situations, whilst richer nations invest in measures to further secure their borders,” Phillimore told FRANCE 24.

But some developed countries are trying to do more, the report said. Canada, for instance, took in 30,000 refugees over the past year.

Amnesty pointed out that refugees make up just 0.3 percent of the global population and offered practical solutions for reducing their number, including increasing the number of resettlement locations, safe-guarding routes for refugee migration and guaranteeing reliable funding for their protection.

Brad Blitz, professor of international politics at Middlesex University in England and author of the book “Migration and Freedom” told FRANCE 24 that most of the report’s suggestions were “spot on”. However he said the report should have put more emphasis on the efforts of some states to block refugees from applying for asylum.

Blitz also described the UN General Assembly as “a failure” on the migration issue.

"We know that there has to be a global system of resettlement,” he said. “It's the only way."

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