Yet another reminder has come of one dimension of the challenge people in many parts of the world face in trying to work out basic issues of personal freedom from domination and from want. The United States Commission for Refugees estimates that 9 million people fled their own countries over the past year - 1. 3 million more than a year ago - and an additional 7 million are refugees within their own nations.
Often the problems of domination and want exist together, as in Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Half this year's increase in refugees fleeing homelands come from these two countries, both run by pro-Soviet Marxist governments. In the past five years an estimated 3.66 million Afghans, three-fourths of them women and children, have made their way to Pakistani refugee camps to escape violence spawned by the brutal Soviet attempt to impose a puppet regime on Afghanistan.
The refugee flow is broadly based and often in the direction of the developed West, which despite its own problems, remains for much of the world a beacon light of freedom and material plenty. Vietnamese still brave pirate attacks in search of a Thai way station and eventual Western immigration. Iranians flee their autocratic theocracy for Western European freedom. Central Americans seek escape from turmoil, and Mexicans search for employment and a better life north of the border.
The migration is not orderly, and often it is not legal. In addition, it threatens to overwhelm some host nations and communities. But it is evidence anew of mankind's deep yearning for both relative personal liberty and freedom from want.