The European response to the refugee and migrant crisis: how can we all work to make 2022 a year of action and respect for human rights?

Refugees entering Poland from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing point.   © UNHCR/Chris Melzer

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Wireko Andrew Awuah, a 5th year medical student at Sumy State University, Ukraine and Ms. Esther Esther Patience Nansubuga, a 3rd year medical student at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

For the time being, the European response to the refugee and migrant crisis has been a hot topic, particularly in terms of refugees’ and migrants’ human rights. The world is not new to the refugee and migrant crisis: its prevalence has always coincided with many social progressions in the world at one point or another for millennia. The severity of the crisis at any given point in time varies according to the circumstances. The refugee and migrant crisis is caused by a variety of factors, including wars and political upheavals; natural and economic disasters; religious conflicts, epidemics, other health issues; and many others. Such causes demonstrate that in most cases, compelling circumstances force people to become refugees or migrants.

In several instances, it is well known that refugees and migrants face human rights violations and humanitarian crises in the places where they migrate to and settle. Furthermore, it is also worth noting that the refugee and migrant crisis has far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world, not just Europe.

As a result, it is clear that there is a need to collectively work together to ensure that 2022 is a year of action. It should be a year where direct and tangible respect for refugees’ and migrants’ human rights is introduced and is paramount to every encounter and guideline made to support these affected groups. The migrant crisis is not just a local or regional issue; it affects the whole globe. Because of this, we all have an important role to play in the European response. We must persuade all stakeholders, including international organizations such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies such as the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, of the importance of collaborating with Europe to ensure that refugees and migrants are treated with dignity and human rights, and that relief, medical, and other necessary supports are made available.

We can also make 2022 a year of action by banding together with a common goal in mind, as happened in the early 1980s during the famine and subsequent humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, when the world came together to combat a major humanitarian crisis. This action was initiated and spearheaded by music legends and producers such as Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, and others, who composed and performed the famous song, “We Are the World,” which touched the heart and conscience of the world, and helped raise money, mobilize relief items, and other humanitarian support for victims of that crisis.

Whether directly or indirectly, the crisis at hand affects all individuals around the world. From this action year forward, it is critical that we ensure that the European response to the crisis shows humanity, and that the human rights of refugees and migrants are prioritized, respected, and protected.

About the author

Wireko Andrew Awuah is a 5th year medical student at Sumy State University, Ukraine. His huge involvements into scientific research works has earned him numerous publications and the best Medical Student Award winner, 2020 at Sumy State University.

Esther Patience Nansubuga is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. She has interests in public health and global initiatives and has been part of research teams that partake in raising awareness and recommendations.

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