Amnesty blasts global refugee response. What more can be done?

Amnesty International urged world leaders to protect the millions of forcibly displaced people around the globe, calling current efforts a 'shameful failure.'

Massimo Pinca/AP
A man shouts as he stands on the rocks facing the sea, in Ventimiglia, at the border between Italy and France, Sunday. French border police blocked border crossings last week, citing the influx of migrants, and about 200 would-be refugees have refused to leave the rocks of Ventimiglia, just a few kilometers from the swank resorts of Nice and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera.

Amnesty International urged world leaders Monday to radically overhaul refugee policies and create a comprehensive global strategy to deal with the crisis, describing it as the worst emergency of its kind since World War II.

The human rights watchdog issued a report Monday suggesting that world leaders have abandoned millions of refugees to "an unbearable existence" and left thousands more to die by failing to provide basic human protections. It estimated that some 50 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2013.

"The refugee crisis is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, but the response of the international community has been a shameful failure," said Salil Shetty, the group's secretary-general.

The report estimates that 4 million people have fled Syria, with more than half of the country's population displaced. Some 95 percent are eking out an existence in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Amnesty says these countries are struggling to cope with the influx.

Shetty is urging states to share responsibility internationally.

The rights group is also challenging governments to rethink the use of the word "migrants" to describe the flood of people taking to ships and other modes of transport in fleeing their native lands. Many picked up as sea in the Mediterranean, for example, should properly be called refugees because they are fleeing war zones — a definition that would give them international protection, said Audrey Gaughran, the director of global issues for the organization.

"If governments acknowledge they are refugees, they are acknowledging they have to do things differently," she said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.