Driven from Home: Protecting the Rights of Forced Migrants

Driven from Home: Protecting the Rights of Forced Migrants

Driven from Home: Protecting the Rights of Forced Migrants

Driven from Home: Protecting the Rights of Forced Migrants

Excerpt

People have been driven from their homes by wars, unjust treatment, earthquakes, and hurricanes throughout human history. The reality of forced migration is not new. Nor is awareness of the suffering of the displaced a recent discovery. How to protect and assist those who have been forced from their homes, however, is under serious reconsideration today. This book aims to advance that discussion by addressing questions raised by the growing number of persons who have been driven from their homes and by our increased awareness of their suffering.

A high level of migration is one of the dramatic characteristics of the growing interdependence of today's global situation. One of the most notable manifestations of growing global interconnections is the extraordinary movement of people across the borders of nation- states. Today about 200 million people live in countries where they are not citizens. Many of these people have moved voluntarily in pursuit of better lives for themselves or because of links with family. Many others have moved involuntarily. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that at the end of 2007 there were a total of 67 million persons in the world who had been forcibly displaced from their homes. These include more than 16 million people who are refugees as officially defined by the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees—persons who have had to flee across an international border because of “well- founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Often the source of this persecution is the government of their own country. The responsibility to protect these refugees remains a central legal and moral duty in our time.

We have recently become newly aware of older forms of displacement that go beyond that of refugees as defined by the 1951 Convention, and new kinds of displacement have been developing in recent years. These raise additional questions about the scope of responsibilities toward displaced people. Many people are on the move because of conflicts and wars brought about by intergroup and intrastate conflicts. Some of these conflicts are due to struggles over political power or economic resources. Others are, at least in part, cultural in nature. Resistance by traditional . . .

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