Marion Osmont

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

sanctions freedom of movement in Article 13:
“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own”,
and  recognizes the right to asylum as a fundamental right in Article 14:
“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

One person out of 110 in the world has been forced to flee their home

Every day thousands of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes, oftentimes brutally. According to the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR) agency, a record number of people across the world fleeing wars, violence and persecution were uprooted in 2017.
In its 2017 report, the Agency estimates that over 68.5 million people have been displaced, a constantly evolving figure since 2012 and the highest one ever recorded since the creation of the United Nations agency in 1950 in the aftermath of the Second World War.
They depart from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. More than half of them are under the age of 18. 57% of refugees across the world come from 3 countries: Syria (6.3 million), Afghanistan (2.6 million) and South Sudan (2.4 million).

Displaced persons in the world

Although many talk about Europe’s difficulties in facing a refugee “inflow”, the UNHCR emphasizes a profound imbalance in the reception of these uprooted persons. Among the 68.5 million, 40 million people are internally displaced: most people who are forced to flee their homes never never cross their country’s borders. And ¾ of refugees live in their homeland’s neighboring countries. 85% of refugees are therefore received by developing countries. The poorest countries are the ones which bear the main burden of receiving displaced persons.
10 countries out of 193 on the planet and which represent less than 2.5 % of the global GDP receive 56 % of the refugees. No European or North American country is included among these 10 countries.
The leading host country is Turkey, which has received 2.9 million people. Pakistan has received 1.4 million refugees; Lebanon and Iran respectively have received 1 million and 979,400 refugees. On the African continent, 940,800 people are refugees in Uganda, 791,600 in Ethiopia.

The roads of exile

Exile compels precarious living conditions and exposes the most vulnerable to violence: kidnapping, illegal detentions, threats, rape and violence. Border blockades mean that migrants take increasingly perilous routes. All along border points, informal camps develop where migrants survive in extreme health and material precariousness.
During the first half of 2018, nearly 50,000 people risked their lives to reach Europe by the Mediterranean Sea. Several thousands of them drowned and could not be identified. The UNHCR estimates that at least 1500 died during the first half of 2018, approximately 1 person out of 30 who attempted the crossing. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has counted over 15,000 migrant drownings in the Mediterranean in the past 4 years. The UNHCR has called to strengthen search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, and points out that the law of the sea makes it compulsory to render assistance to any person in danger or in a situation of distress at sea, and disembark them in a safe place, usually the nearest port.


“Asylum means a place or territory where one can benefit from protection. From the beneficiary’s point of view, the right to asylum therefore means to search and find refuge and no longer be pursued once it is found, and also, from the granter’s point of view, the right to receive wanted persons and not deliver them” (Right of asylum, Jean Malabre, Encyclopédia Universalis).
For those who arrive in Europe, the outcome will remain uncertain until protection has been obtained. Migrants often suffer discrimination in the countries where they settle, which limits their access to education, employment, health care and housing. But, going against the opinions of many policy makers who justify their closed-doors policies by the public opinion’s reluctance, many citizens have been mobilizing to decently receive these people who have left everything in the hope of a better life

< Back