In the words of Emmanuel Kant: “Hospitality means the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another because [all men have] common possession of the surface of the earth.”
On the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal on behalf of migrants and refugees. In his Sunday message for titled, “Child Migrants - the Vulnerable and the Voiceless,” the Holy Father said that numerous refugee children are suffering at the hands of malicious and unscrupulous people.
“Since this is a complex phenomenon, the question of child migrants must be tackled at its source. Wars, human rights violations, corruption, poverty, environmental imbalance and disasters, are all causes of this problem. Children are the first to suffer, at times suffering torture and other physical violence, in addition to moral and psychological aggression, which almost always leave indelible scars.”
Of the 17 million displaced Africans in the world, approximately 3% are in Europe and the vast majority remains in Africa. Only two African nations were among the top 10 countries of origin for refugees heading to Europe in 2015: Eritrea and Nigeria.
Many travel clandestinely since transit visas are impossible to obtain and few African states welcome newcomers. A dense network of trafficking operations and interconnecting routes take the migrants to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, while another route leads 4,000 miles from the Horn of Africa to the richest nation in the continent, South Africa.
There have been repeated outbreaks of xenophobic violence in these destinations, with migrants targeted in frequent bouts of attacks. This violence is fueled by a chronic shortage of jobs, services and housing. But as European resistance to accepting new migrants stiffens, the intra-continental flow of migrants is unlikely to diminish soon.
Governments and leaders in countries to where refugees are fleeing conflict should be encouraged to ensure peace in their countries and create favorable conditions. If this is accomplished, many young people would be spared the suffering that comes from the trauma of being refugees and migrants.
In this context, the UNHCR and aid agencies should be commended for their initiatives throughout 2016. These organisations including the Women Like Us Foundation have been relentless in their efforts to end the suffering of African refugees.
These organisations have worked tirelessly to bring resources to the much needed areas in Africa. They help identify the most vulnerable individuals and devise responses to their specific needs. With increasing global turmoil, every little bit of help and effort can go a long way in alleviating the relief of those suffering, in any part of the world.