World Refugee Day - Changing The Conversation On Forced Migration

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#WorldRefugeeDay 2017 comes in the wake of a terrorist attack at a Mosque in #FinsburyPark and an attempted attack on police in Paris, in a now continuous wave targeting civilians including the #LondonBridge and #Manchester attacks. Meanwhile, reports are emerging of 100,000’s of civilians trapped in indiscriminate fighting in Mosul and Raqqa.

The despicable attacks in London and elsewhere in Europe are unfortunately giving the western world a tiny taste of what life was like every minute of every day for the record 65 million innocent people across the world forced to flee war, ethnic and religious violence, poverty, climate-change and extreme weather. We must heed this wake-up call.

While we continue to advocate for the needs of those forcibly displaced across the world and push for policies welcoming them among us, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the causes of forced migration.

From war to terrorism, global warming, and poverty, refugees and forced migrants are the innocent victims of our collective failure as a human race. We are all responsible for the unequal conditions that are generating and will continue to generate more and more innocent victims unless we address them at their roots.

We have to get beyond the notion of disaster relief and immigration rights as chief responses to the migration crisis. We need to move past post-migration band-aids to big-picture, systemic solutions to the causes of war, inequality and intolerance.

We cannot stem an increasing number of climate change refugees without addressing pollution, fossil fuels, and global warming. As Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State’s foreign affairs policy board, noted when speaking on the convergence of climate change and conflict, “There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in sub-Saharan Africa.”

We cannot stop the exodus of Central American families fleeing kidnappings, prostitution and death from drug related crime without addressing the political corruption, lack of opportunity, systemic inequality, and the regional and international forces maintaining the drug trade.

We will not stop the forced flight of hundreds of thousands of innocents across the Middle East and North Africa unless we stop the fuel- and power- wars perpetrated on these populations by their own governments, rebel and extremist forces, and governments across the world, which are indiscriminately sacrificing civilians with impunity.

The causes of the global migration crisis are accelerating and combining, and unless we change the way we live together as a human race, the number of innocent men, women, and children forced to flee their homes will continue to increase.

In his 2015 letter on the state and care of our planet, “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis recognized that saving our environment requires nothing less than a worldwide awakening and shift in values. The same is true of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times.

To stem the migration crisis, we must change the very nature of global society from one of individual interest, unaccountability and profit to one of mutual responsibility.

As Francis states, “This vision of “might is right” has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity… Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace.”

If we want to stand #withrefugees, we must move the conversation beyond crisis response and #refugeeswelcome advocacy to one that addresses the complexity of the crisis and our shared responsibility in its causes. We must lift the voices of refugees, for they are the ones who live each day the desperate and complex reality which we must understand to change.

We must awaken in each other the need for a shift in values, and demand a social and economic order that reaffirms our global commonality. And, we must go across every border and boundary between us to bring our world together.