Ten countries – which account for just 2.5 percent of the global economy – are hosting more than half the world’s refugees, a rights group has said, accusing wealthy countries of leaving poorer nations to bear the brunt of a worsening crisis.
In a report published on Tuesday, Amnesty International said the unequal share was exacerbating the global refugee problem, as inadequate conditions in the main countries of shelter pushed many to embark on dangerous journeys to Europe and Australia.
The London-based group said 56 percent of the world’s 21 million refugees are being hosted by just 10 countries – all in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Jordan, which has taken in more than 2.7 million people, was named as the top refugee hosting country, followed by Turkey, over 2.5 million; Pakistan, 1.6 million; and Lebanon, more than 1.5 million.
The other top six nations were Iran, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.
“A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbours to a crisis,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary-general.
“That situation is inherently unsustainable, exposing the millions fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq to intolerable misery and suffering.”
Amnesty said many of the world’s wealthiest nations “host the fewest and do the least”, highlighting a stark contrast in the number of refugees taken in by countries near crisis-hit areas and by wealthier nations with similar populations elsewhere.
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Britain, for example, has taken in fewer than 8,000 Syrians since 2011, while Jordan – with a population almost 10 times smaller than Britain and just 1.2 percent of its GDP – hosts more than 655,000 refugees from its war-torn neighbour, Amnesty said.
“It is not simply a matter of sending aid money. Rich countries cannot pay to keep people ‘over there’,” it said.
Amnesty proposed a solution, whereby the world’s richest countries would find a home for 10 percent of the planet’s refugees every year, and singled out Canada, which has resettled some 30,000 Syrian refugees in the past year, as a wealthy country doing its part.
“It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution,” Shetty said.
“They need to explain why the world can bail out banks, develop new technologies and fight wars, but cannot find safe homes for 21 million refugees, just 0.3 percent of the world’s population.”
Kathleen Newland, cofounder of the Migration Policy Institute, said unless more countries step up their response, the refugees will continue to flee using dangerous routes
“I think we’ll see more people trying to move through clandestine channels using smugglers, putting themselves in great danger to try to reach a place where they can restart their lives,” she told Al Jazeera.
“The more governments try to close off those routes, the more dangerous the alternatives become.”