Global Refugee Regime Seems to Be Veering Away From Traditional Rules
As the threat of war looms large, the situation of those displaced because of violence and fights is becoming the focal point of talks amidst humanitarian groups. Many wrote about the situation in Afghanistan. The last many years have brought about quite a lot of enormous "refugee movements and humanitarian emergencies." More than 50 million people have been displaced by conflicts, war and other disasters and things may get worse.
The many organizations that offer aid to those who are forced to flee from their native lands are trying their level best to reach out and help each one of them. But nations all over seem to be hesitant to take in refugees who do not have any place else to go. What is the solution? How can humanitarian agencies cope with the increasing number of refugees? A book report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees puts forth this query. (1)
The report points out changes that have happened since the Cold War and analyzes the roots of the present humanitarian problem as well as changes in the manner in which agencies act to resolve such problems. Though it is essential to "respect the right of asylum," more attention should be paid to handle refugee problems "at their source," that is, by creating a non-threatening environment and by helping the affected regions gain back normalcy so that those who have been coerced into leaving their homes can be brought back. For this to be made possible, it is essential to get together and plan for joint "international action" to see that none violates human rights, avoid and help prevent "armed conflicts," encourage progress and cope with "migratory movements." (1)
The book analyses the connection between these various issues that are linked to refugees and also has information, by way of "a comprehensive set of statistical tables, graphs and maps, describing the state of the world's refugees." It also employs case studies to study conditions of refugees across the world and to gather more knowledge about innovative methods used in managing refugee movements that are now being employed by aid agencies. The book, titled The State of the World's Refugees 1995, gives comprehensive information on problems faced by refugees and the policies followed by nations and agencies in this era, that is, the "post-Cold War period." It can be termed to be an important source of knowledge and information on the subject of refugees - a topic that has gathered high priority in the agenda of international organizations. (1)
The Price of Indifference, by Arthur Helton, is one of the latest books to have hit the market and it concerns original information about one of the most important problems faced by the world today that is, the subject of refugees. Helton gives an extremely comprehensible picture of "humanitarian action" over the last ten years and concentrates more on "forced displacement" and the role enacted by the UN in solving this problem. The book poses a number of queries and also gives many suggestions. It is a good addition to the ongoing argument on "humanitarian action," and will be of great use to those concerned in coping with "humanitarian challenges better in the future."
Helton's book throws light on the plight of the many refugees and shall prove helpful in guiding those who are interested in knowing more about how the world may be rendered stable and safe for the many million refugees and "displaced people." (2)
Helton stresses through this book, that all the nations around the world are capable of accomplishing a better task with people who have been displaced due to strife. The book also enumerates the importance of the issue of refugees as far a foreign policy is concerned. Though it is more than often not given much thought to by those at the helm, the problem of refugees is connected to ever nation in the world and is, thus, an international issue. The Security Council, NATO and other agencies have been prompted to intervene in the significantly huge problem of "forced displacement" that has come up as one of the major issues in politics in the past ten years.
The Price of Indifference assesses facts gleaned from these incidents so that any further events related to forced displacements are handled effectively in future. The book has an elaborate analysis of policies related to refugees taken in the past and is also helpful with policy steps the various agencies and governments could take regarding future problems. The recommendations stress on "preventive comprehensive measures" and provide a vast range of information on those displaced, prevention of armed or social conflicts within regions, policies related to dealing with humanitarian emergencies and international organizations and law.
The material used in the book relates to historical facts and the text analyzes information with "first hand observations." The suggestions provided are many. According to Princeton N. Lyman, Executive Director, Global Interdependence Initiative, The Aspen Institute, and Former Director, Bureau for Refugee Programs, U.S. Department of State "It is a policy-oriented text which deserves careful reading and re-reading, and one of the best I have ever read." (3)
The book reflects the effort Helton has put into compiling facts and figures on internal and international refugees and it may be considered as essential research material for those who are into deciding policies for the future. The author has also made efforts to study how essential prevention of conflicts are when it comes to displacement of people from their lands and nations.
The book is a good read for all those who want to absorb an elaborate and very well-written analysis on the issue of refugees. (3)
The author, in his talk on Afghanistan and Iraq, Helton analyzed the way in which present policies work towards solving the refugee problem and stressed that those at the helm should take up a "more proactive and comprehensive policy" for helping out refugees and for more "co-ordination" among the many national and international aid agencies and organizations. He also said that the system adopted for solving the refugee issue and for running humanitarian agencies "is broken" and that it could not be "fixed from within." He stressed that though it was essential to help alleviate the problems faced by people, it was also necessary to make sure such problems do not happen again. He says that the answer to this problem lies in "the consolidation of the United Nations humanitarian actors" and the creation of a new organization that would co-ordinate "refugee assistance policy."
He suggests the establishment of an "intergovernmental policy research center-what he called Strategic Humanitarian Action and Research" so that the existing gaps in the "international humanitarian assistance community" might be filled. He cited Afghanistan as an example and argued that the various agencies need to see that the functions carried out there need more co-ordination of "humanitarian response and reconstruction efforts." He also underlined many suggestions for the national and international agencies working in Afghanistan. The suggestions include taking up a "small projects strategy for recovery and the development of local capacities for governance." He also suggested a better role for non-governmental organizations to help create a stable region.
President Bush's plans of invading Iraq do bring about many "challenges" to the various humanitarian aid agencies worldwide. Helton is of the opinion that the international community has to be more flexible in their approach towards planning for emergencies. Instead of chalking out plans for particular situations, the organizations must be prepared for other emergencies and be able to draw out and follow other plans as per incidents "on the ground." Though it sounds difficult, Helton is of the view that the present system of dealing with refugees is not flexible enough to handle emergencies and unpredictable events. (4)
Beyond Charity, by Gil Loescher, is about the crisis faced by the world today on account of the vast number of refugees that exist owing to fights and wars. The issue of internally and internationally displaced people has been the center of raging debates that relate to the "political changes are necessary in the international system" so that more reliable and effective solutions are drawn out in future. The book not only analyzes the humanitarian crisis that exists all over the world but also stresses that the refugee issue is not just related to "humanitarian concerns" but also to the various related subjects of peace and protection all over the world. Beyond Charity is an effective contribution to the debate surrounding the refugee problem and it also recommends certain methods to solve this problem effectively in future. (5)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established in 1951 with the main objective of securing the rights of and helping out refugees. Refugees may be termed to be people who have been forced to abandon their homes and because of threat to their lives for being…