Refugee problem calls for 'burden sharing' – António Guterres

Malian refugees at a camp in Mangaizé, Niger. The U.N. refugee agency ups its funding appeal for Malian refugees from $35.6 to $153.7 million. Photo by: H. Caux / UNHCR

The rise in refugee numbers in Mali has led the U.N. refugee agency to raise its funding appeal to $153.7 million, up from the $35.6 million issued in February.

Nearly 320,000 Malians are currently taking refuge in neighboring countries or safer parts of Mali. This was prompted by the resumed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels in January as well as the coup d’etat in March, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The new appeal will be used for the agency’s operations in Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger this 2012.

This situation paints a grim picture of the growing refugee problem worldwide. More people are predicted to become refugees or displaced in the next decade, according to UNHCR’s latest refugee report.

The State of the World’s Refugees: In Search of Solidarity,” launched May 31, reveals there are currently 43 million people forced to flee their homes due to a number of factors. More than half, or 26 million, are internally displaced people.

The displacements are caused by a number of factors, including conflict, natural disasters and climate change. And in the long run, climate change is expected to trigger “large-scale population movements.”

The report also highlights the challenges faced by aid workers in assisting refugees, specifically insecurity and access restrictions. And these are more apparent in countries where human rights abuses are high: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Yemen.

UNHCR chief António Guterres stressed the need for international solidarity to help address the world’s growing refugee problem. He called for a “new deal on burden sharing” through financial and technical support, resettlements and formal agreements between countries.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.