The word “refugees” is becoming one that people in the Western countries now consider with some distaste. Politicians in many advanced countries try to hide the refugee emergency by using the word “migrants” incorrectly, or by euphemisms such as “illegal asylum seekers” to avoid addressing an issue that is a true international emergency.

UNHCR and Africa

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has its work cut out in Africa which only makes the emergency in the Middle East even more appalling and difficult to manage.

To the millions settled in the countries around Syria and Iraq the UNHCR must also look after a huge refugee population in Africa which involves about 26% of the world’s refugees.

The conflicts in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Sudan, adding then those fleeing Nigeria and other difficult situations have contributed to creating a virtual country’s population living in precarious and difficuly conditions. The numbers are horrifying.

The largest refugee camps are as follows: Dolo Ado (Ethiopia) 370,000, Kukama (Kenya) 100,000, Mbera (Mauritania) 80,000, Yida (South Sudan) 50,000, Nakivale (Ugand) 70,000, Nya Rugusu (Tanzania) 63,000.

To these camps must be added the innumerable smaller camps, the many charities which help individuals and those desperate refugees which seek their own way to Europe and other countries by paying people smugglers, or by other surreptitious means with many who only find death in sinking boats in the Mediterranean and other seas.

NOT just Statistics

Yet as we look at these numbers and consider the use of euphemisms by unscrupulous politicians to try and downplay the emergency, we of the advanced Democracies often forget one vital fact. Each number that composes the statistics of refugees is not a cold impersonal addition to a sum, but represents a human being seeking to flee from death, slavery and other catastrophes.

When world Leaders such as United States President Donald Trump, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Germany’s Angela Merkel meet to discuss the world political map their decisions can decide to resolve these refugee issues, but they also often create waves of refugees as happened after the Western intervention to remove Muammar Gheddafi in Libya in 2011, or the Russian intervention in Syria last year.

The advanced Democracies cannot simply intervene in developing countries, leave the job half completed and then wash their hands of the refugees created by their actions. The refugee crisis in Africa and the Middle East are also a result of Western actions and as such the West must be involved in resolving these emergencies.

The first stage must of course be to help those who flee the war zones. The second step must be to find permanent solutions that will remove the need for millions to flee their homelands.

The third step of the solution is also the hardest. The advanced countries must learn to stop interfering in the politics of other countries solely on the basis of their own foreign policy agendas.

If they are forced to do so, then they must only withdraw when the task has been completed and the countries involved pacified.

Until superpowers such as the United States and Russia continue to interfere in the politics of other countries the refugee crisis we see in Africa and also the Middle East will never be disappear and it will become a permanent part of World politics.