Last year, the number of people who fled violence and persecution worldwide rose for the ninth year in a row, reaching 1 in every 95 people. The swell of migrants is now pushing many countries to both tighten their borders and try to solve the crises creating refugees. Are any of these efforts working?
In the United States, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the southern border Friday, her first visit as the federal official now in charge of curbing an upsurge of migrants into the U.S. Her work to improve conditions for people in Central America could take years and more money from Congress to lift up the region.
In Africa, 16 countries decided Wednesday to send troops to Mozambique, a hot spot of terrorist attacks, in order to prevent a flood of refugees into neighboring nations. More than 800,000 people have already been displaced there.
In Southeast Asia, neighboring countries of Myanmar are trying to prevent an influx of refugees fleeing a domestic conflict between armed pro-democracy rebels and a military that took power five months ago. So far, they have failed to persuade the ruling junta to share power.
In Afghanistan, the coming withdrawal of U.S. forces has forced President Joe Biden to plan for the evacuation of 18,000 Afghans who have worked with American forces. He and other world leaders are also trying to bolster the elected government in Kabul to prevent an exodus of Afghans fleeing the expected expansion of Taliban rule.
Perhaps the best example of progress in solving a refugee-producing crisis is in Libya, which has been largely unstable since a 2011 uprising against dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
A Germany-led effort to end an internal conflict in the North African country – and stop it from being a transit point for migration to Europe – has showed good success since an October cease-fire. In February, a transitional government was set up to unite contending factions. At an international conference in Berlin on Wednesday, further progress was made in planning for the pullout of 20,000 foreign fighters backed by Russia and Turkey and for a crucial election in December.
The next step for Libya’s unity government is to agree on a constitutional framework for the elections. “Libya’s fresh political leadership and the country’s energetic but beleaguered civil society, can make a difference,” one U.S. official said after the conference.
On June 20, the world marked the 70th anniversary of an international treaty, signed by most countries, to prevent refugees from being forced back into a conflict zone. That treaty has largely worked. Now the world’s focus is on solving or preventing conflicts. Libya’s progress shows what can be done.