When you see big numbers in relation to refugee situations, ensure you put them into context.
First published: March 2022.
1 million refugees [from Ukraine], divided by 28 (EU+UK) is a little over 35,000 people per country, which is not a lot in terms of overall populations.
For fairly obvious reasons, at the start of a conflict, you will see higher numbers of people fleeing. It is important, therefore, not to use initial figures to claim that they will continue at this level, as some organisations frequently do.
The majority of refugees will wish to remain in regions of origin, for a number of reasons, but mainly because most refugees want to return home, they have ties to the area, etc. but you cannot assume that they will do so.
For equally good reasons though a number of refugees may feel unsafe in their regions of origin and seek asylum further away. Commonly, this can be related to a fear of cross-border escalation, conflict-related hostility, etc. in neighbouring countries.
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That is why it is so important that countries further away do not start using lines such as “first safe country”, which doesn’t exist in law anyway, and prepare to accept refugees from around the world.
Refugee protection means more than just saying words of support. It is about more than platitudes.
All nations have the ability, and arguably the obligation, to provide asylum to those who seek it in them.
The more states which do accept refugees who seek asylum in them, the fewer people each individual state has to provide safety for, so it benefits everyone.
Countries must not be allowed to avoid obligations to refugees by saying they can seek asylum somewhere else.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.
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- Text: This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 4 March 2022 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Adobe Stock/pronoia.