brian-mig
22 Feb
  • By Brian Cassidy

Thousands killed and millions displaced – International Migrant Crisis

The world seems to be getting more intimidating every day. While there are many areas of concern, one of the most urgent is without question the International Migrant Crisis. This has seen thousands killed and millions displaced over the last decade, with over two thousand thought to have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2017 alone. Many civilians throughout the affected regions of the Middle East, Asia and Africa have witnessed their family members killed, tortured, or simply disappeared, with little hope of a reunion. Homes destroyed, livelihoods gone, they and many others have fled to parts of the world where they hope that they can be safe. Their reception has in general been mixed, ranging from the arms open embrace of Merkel’s Germany, to Trump’s ban on migrants from certain states, every nation and people having its own view. It should be impossible to ignore the shocking pictures, heart-breaking stories, and chilling atrocities we are presented with on a daily basis, with no end in sight, and no solution clear, but we are becoming numb through repeated exposure.

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Most of us have given to a charity that helps migrants at some point or other, whether by putting some change in the collection box at the newsagents, buying a raffle ticket, or agreeing to a regular direct debit from your bank account, and these are good things, commendable acts, but we cannot forget why these charities need our support.  Charities like Oxfam, Concern, Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to name but a few, are saving lives daily, providing food, water, lodgings, support and protection to many of the hundreds of thousands currently living in migrant camps around the world.  

Oxfam’s WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project, for example, focuses on the essential importance of clean water, for consumption and hygiene in the 52 countries in which they operate. Packs are given out which contain water purifying powder sachets, soap, and bio-degradable, self-sanitizing, single use toilets. This provides up to 20 litres of clean water for cooking, drinking and washing, and sharply reduces the spread of disease caused by human waste. It’s simple, effective, and has probably saved thousands of lives.

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We cannot ascribe our support of this and similar projects to a vague sense of guilt, or to societal pressure. There are actual human beings, indistinguishable from you and your loved ones, in pain, terrified, desperate for help, out there right now, as you are reading this.  The odds are good that if one appeared outside your front door, you would rush to help, to give food and warmth, some level of comfort to another human being so clearly in distress. We have learned to distance ourselves from this knowledge. The modern world, this “Information Age” that we live in, has made these tragedies known, when and as they happen, which has led to many people shutting their emotional connection to them off. At least 90 people are feared to have drowned in a single incident at the beginning of February, according to the International Organisation for Migration, but this tragedy will be forgotten by March, if it isn’t already. Stories of horror and despair have become unrelated to our lives, and so, unreal. Photos of crying children are just images, without context or meaning. Even video testimonials from migrants telling of their struggles evoke only vague short-lived feelings of pity.

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Should the fact that they are not right in front of us remove our natural urge to help?

Does our support of a charity mean we can allow ourselves to forget about these people?

We have a responsibility, to them and to ourselves, to recognize these migrants as people, wholly the same as every other person that you know, to allow ourselves to feel pain at their suffering, and outrage at their circumstances. Through doing this, we can remember that help can still be offered, that suffering can be lessened, and that hope is a renewable resource.

The crisis is happening right now. To deny its reality is to damage ourselves, and everyone else involved.

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Brian Cassidy holds a BA in World Religions and Theology, and an LLM in International Humanitarian Law, Peace Operations, and Conflict. He is dedicated to raising awareness about International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and the International Refugee Crisis, along with a few other topics, through writing and discussion.

Email: brianphcassidy@gmail.com