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May 27, 2020

Dealing with displacements

Editorial

 
May 27, 2020

Covid-19 is raging across the world but even in these trying times people are being displaced or forced to migrate. There are two major reasons for this: one is the continuing conflicts in various hotspot, and second is lack of livelihood forcing people to move. According to some latest figures, over half a million people have been displaced from their homes in conflict zones during the past two to three months. Though the UN and other peace organizations have been calling for a global ceasefire during the pandemic, warring factions have paid no heed to such pleas. Most of the armed conflicts around the world have seen no letup in casualties and fatalities coupled with mass displacements and migrations. There are as many as 20 countries where major displacements have taken place in recent months; the highest number being in Africa and especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These displacements are imposed on people when gun-wielding warlords with their soldiers invade villages and force people to leave their homes and move on into wilderness. The victims of these atrocities become extremely vulnerable to disease and starvations as their families have no wherewithal to protect themselves against the coronavirus or to fight against the militants. The worst part is that the world community has taken no notice of such recent displacements and no plan has been developed to tackle an impending crisis when these displaced people start contracting the virus in large numbers. There has not been any major effort to halt the conduct of hostilities and settle disputes through talks. There has to be a systematic response not only to the pandemic but also to the displacements caused by civil wars and insurgencies. Attacks and fighting have continued from Afghanistan and Yemen to Chad and Congo, with devastating impact on children and women.

Other countries that have witnessed mass displacements include Central African Republic, Myanmar, Niger, Somalia, and Syria. In these countries thousands of people have been rendered homeless by continuing conflicts. Then there are migrants who were on the lowest paid jobs and now find themselves even without that meagre living. According to the UN data nearly 10 percent of the population in at least 15 countries have been forced to migrate because of Covid-19 and the resultant joblessness. Increasing border restrictions also have an impact on the mobility of migrants and the humanitarian organizations are unable to reach such people. The world should not forget about these people who are facing miserable conditions in displacement and migration. The UN should lead a coordinated effort to counter this menace, and the world community must come together to help the UN in this matter.