European response towards the refugees and migrants crisis: how can we all make 2022 a year of action and respect to human rights

“I didn’t think I would return here again, I hoped I would live in my homeland.” Rohingya grandmother Rahima Khatun (centre), 55, stands outside her shelter in Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh with her five children and seven grandchildren. Rahima was first made a refugee in 1978 at the age of 14, then again in 1992. On that occasion, her eldest daughter died of illness after the young family fled Myanmar. ; More than 640,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar, seeking safety in Bangladesh in 2017. While UNHCR intensified efforts to respond to this mass displacement and provide shelter in and around existing camps near Cox’s Bazar, the sheer numbers mean there is much hardship to contend with. Whole families, young widowed mothers and unaccompanied minors were among those fleeing from persecution and violence in northern Rakhine state. Many arrived traumatised, in poor physical condition and in need of life-saving support. Cramped and deprived living conditions in the camps present concerns, but despite the hardships, the Rohingya feel safe compared to the situation back home. UNHCR is providing protection, food, clean water, shelter, health care, trauma counselling and reunification for separated families.

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Wireko Joseph Agyei, a 3rd – year Medical Laboratory Science student at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, in Sunyani, Ghana. He is 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.

The years past have witnessed the refugee and migrants crisis in Europe and other parts of the world. There are various reasons for the crisis in Europe and elsewhere. Among them are:

(1) Political Instability and Persecution : This phenomenon in some parts of the world has contributed to the refugee and migrants crisis in Europe and elsewhere.

The lack of democracy and good governance in some countries have led to political upheaval, instability and the persecution of political opponents. Victims of such unstable and sometimes totalitarian political environments, flee to safer and more peaceful countries, particularly to well established democratic countries in Europe as refugees and migrants.

(2). Economic Reasons :  Economic crisis in many countries, particularly in poor and developing countries, has been one of the underlying causes of the phenomenon called “economic refugees and migrants” which has contributed to the crisis in Europe.

Such refugees and migrants migrate to other countries (particularly to the West) for “greener pastures”. They do so in search of jobs and livelihoods which are very difficult to come by in their countries of residence.

That is why some refugees and migrants undertake very dangerous adventures to  travel to Europe in overcrowded and dilapidated boats, which sometimes capsize on the high seas, leading to several deaths and other forms of casualties. Some in Africa also risk their lives trekking for months on the Sahara Desert to Europe in search of better economic living conditions. Many die on their way from thirst, hunger, fatigue, and some are sometimes preyed on by wild animals in the desert.

The European response to the refugees and migrants crisis, should be more pragmatic, innovative and all inclusive, in addressing the underlying factors which trigger the crisis.

Also it is expected that, in 2022, the  European response to the refugees and migrants crisis, should be done with respect and  human dignity.

The human rights of refugees and migrants must be respected. This is because many of the refugees and migrants are already going through a lot of crises such as distress, depression, cultural shock, homelessness, separation from their families, hunger and starvation just to mention a few.

In 2022, we can all help make it a year of action, by playing our respective roles in various ways to achieve the goals of a more humane, human centered and dignified European response to the crisis, where the human rights of refugees and migrants would be respected.Some of the ways include a strong advocacy for the need for Europe and the rest of the world  to provide  refugees and migrants with the needed resources for food, clothing, shelter and education to make their lives comfortable. 

Refugees and migrants need our support, love,care, compassion, and respect among other positive attributes in 2022, if the European response to the refugees and migrants crisis would have any meaningful and positive impact.

About the author

Wireko Joseph Agyei is a 3rd – year Medical Laboratory Science student at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, in Sunyani, Ghana. He is a member of the European Climate Pact. He is also a member of the Open Dialogue On Climate change.

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