Thursday, 15 Nov 2018

Refugees and Asylum

The United Nations has stated that asylum is an inalienable human right, and most countries offer it. The principle is that nations must protect people who face persecution or danger when their own country can not or does not want to protect them. It has been a long time since discussions have been held about who deserves a sanctuary, but today the discord goes further. As a result of violence in the Middle East, Afghanistan and parts of Africa and Central America, the number of asylum seekers has reached unprecedented levels. While most of them are hosted by neighboring countries, a crackdown on refugees in the United States and Europe raises the question of whether support for the notion of asylum can survive.

The situation

The total number of refugees has steadily increased since 2012 reaching 19.9 million by mid-2018, fueling antipathy towards foreigners in some host countries. Of the 1.9 million new refugee claimants in 2017, the United States had the highest number – 332,000, of which 43% were from Central America, where gang-related violence occurred. 39 is generalized. US President Donald Trump has linked his attempt to fight against immigration with an effort to fundamentally overhaul the nation's asylum system. It has banned entry to the citizens of six countries, five of which are mostly Muslim, and has reduced to 30,000 the number of refugees admitted to the United States, a historic record. His administration has excluded the right to asylum for people fleeing domestic violence and gangs, as well as for those who illegally cross the US border with Mexico. It required the detention of all persons illegally arrested at the border, including those seeking refugee status. The parents were separated from their children, causing a public outcry that caused Trump to go back. In October, Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in retaliation for a so-called caravan of migrants traveling from Mexico to the United States. In the European Union, resentment over the influx of refugees has led leaders to consider establishing centers, probably in Africa, to treat asylum seekers. Officials have discouraged groups from saving such people in the Mediterranean. Hungary, led by populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has been found guilty of the crime of helping migrants to apply for asylum.

L & # 39; background

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that the concept of asylum is one of the "first signs of civilization", citing references to it in texts dating back more than 3,500 years. The word comes from the ancient Greek meaning "to be released from the seizure". The 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol constitute the modern legal framework for asylum, defining refugees as persons who can demonstrate that they will be persecuted at home because of their race, their religion, nationality, political beliefs or social group. Agreements in Europe, Africa and South America have expanded the definition to include people fleeing widespread violence. Among today's refugees, Syrians are the largest group. They are fleeing the civil war, like the Afghans and South Sudanese who are the next most important group. The victims of the persecution are Christians who avoid forcibly converting to Islam in the Arab countries and the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar fleeing the abuses of their Buddhist compatriots. The number of asylum applications worldwide rose to 1.9 million in 2017. The United States registered the highest number of asylum applications, with 43% from Central America. In 2017, some 732,500 asylum applications were accepted and a little more – 754,100 – were rejected worldwide. The asylum was used as a political tool, as when Americans welcomed Cubans and Vietnamese seeking refuge from communism. Refugee claims from homosexual, bisexual and transgender people have increased in recent years.

L & # 39; argument

Attacks in Europe and the United States by murderers linked to or inspired by foreign jihadist groups have raised fears that future terrorists will be hiding among those seeking refuge. Detractors of asylum policies also fear that the reception of refugees will lead to an increase in crime and the unemployment rate. Trump administration officials have claimed that the asylum system is misused by fraudsters. Other critics of American asylum judgments say that they are so arbitrary that they are similar to the "roulette of refugees". This has fostered the development of a cottage industry to provide asylum seekers with convincing personal accounts that may be exaggerated or false. Advocates of the filtering process say it's rigorous, even though no system is foolproof. Advocates of asylum insist on the universal obligation to protect vulnerable people and note that many of the people whom nationalists such as Trump would like to exclude are themselves fleeing terrorism. The debate on asylum in the United States and Europe may overshadow the fact that the burden of hosting refugees in the world lies more with the poorest countries, closer to major conflicts, such as Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda.

To contact the author of this QuickTake: Esme E Deprez in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this QuickTake: Lisa Beyer at

First published on May 13, 2015

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P.


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