In our world, 65,3 million people are displaced from their homes due to war and persecution. Many of these people seek asylum in developed states, hoping to finally find peace, build a family, get an education and a job, something that is rarely permitted. Many are not allowed to reach the shores and the borders of other countries, and even if they do, the governments “incarcerate” the refugees in camps where they live in inhumane conditions. As a matter of fact, the majority of the states deny the refugees’ asylum requests, frequently violating the United Nations’ Convention on the status of Refugees (1951). The convention also contains an important principle, the obligation of Non-Refoulement, that forbids countries to return asylum seekers to countries where their life and freedom could be threatened.
Unfortunately, these binding laws and rules are rarely applied and obeyed. The International Organization for Migration, jointly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has recently called upon states for the change in the detention policies of migrants and refugees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created momentum for alternatives to immigration detention as a viable solution to mitigate public health concerns while ensuring access to human rights and essential services for migrants”.
Many believe that the migrant and refugee crisis is not a real problem countries are facing. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations and former UNHCR, is one among these people. As a matter of fact, he states that the European Union has a population of 550 million citizens while refugees and immigrants that seek asylum in our continent are around 1 million. This would mean that, if the EU had the ability to redistribute them in all member states, we would have 1 refugee every 2000 citizens. This would bring us to believe that the real obstacles are not the migrants and refugees themselves but rather their reallocation from “behind bars” into thriving communities.