The world is currently experiencing one of the worst migrant crises to date. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), due to predicaments such as violent conflict and natural catastrophes, around 65.3 million individuals worldwide have been forced to relocate to new, unfamiliar countries. More than half of the world’s refugees originate from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. The number of migrants and forcibly displaced people has intensified at an alarming and upsetting rate these past two years. This consequentially led to a call for amplified universal assistance to the cause of humanitarian aid.
Humanitarian aid is targeted towards maintaining and sustaining individuals’ basic human rights, which includes safeguarding adults and children from violence, abuse and exploitation. The European Union (EU) is a prominent contributor of assistance to refugees at a global level. In 2015, the EU donated more than €1.064 million in support of humanitarian assistance dedicated to refugees and international displaced people. An additional €200 million has been allocated to ongoing projects for developmental aspects. These subsidies encompass schemes which aid: access to accommodation, protection, food, as well as other basic services such as health, sanitation and education.
According to the latest UNHCR data, approximately 51% of the global refugee population consists of children. This is the highest percentage in over a decade. Furthermore, according to the United Nations, women and girls represent roughly 50% of the total refugee population. In many societies, females are prone to threats such as gender-based discrimination and violence. Consequently, they are less likely to benefit from basic rights when compared to males in the same society. Finding long-lasting solutions for refugees is a crucial challenge. Sustainable solutions include: voluntary repatriation to migrants’ home countries or also local integration and resettlement in areas where they have taken refuge.
At the present time, the European Commission is helping to meet the basic necessities of refugees and increase the independence of refugees to lessen their dependency on aid. The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations unit (ECHO) invests heavily in assisting displaced individuals and currently responds to numerous crises such as the situation vis-à-vis Syrian refugees in Turkey and Greece. Whilst supporting refugees, the Commission also aims to reduce the number of domestic victims who suffer from this same refugee crisis.
This article was written by a student reading for a Bachelor's degree in European Studies at the University of Malta.
Each year Europe Direct Valletta hosts two tertiary level so that they may be exposed to the world of work and contribute to the EDIC's undertakings. This initiative has proven to be a beneficial mutual learning exercise both for the EDIC as well as the students it hosts.