Right now, there are almost 85 million people around the world who are living as refugees. They are refugees not by choice. No one in their right mind would wilfully decide to abandon their home, their community, their family and take on an existence that is daunting at least, full of perils, dangers and unknowns at best, and embark on a life on the edge of humanity.
Refugees are such because they have found themselves in an intolerable situation, one where circumstance or violence, catastrophe or chaos has meant there is no choice but to go. It is a decision that is never taken lightly, one that is often the most fundamental choice between living or dying.
The upheavals of our times, the uncertainties of our era, the lure of a better life elsewhere away from deprivation and misery add to the wave of humanity that seeks shelter and havens elsewhere. And with so many now living as refugees, we with fixed roots — the sureties of families and societies, normal lives where our paths are certain and our fulfilment of hope better served — would do well to remind ourselves daily that we are indeed blessed.
We must also remind ourselves and others too that refugees are people with the same needs and wants, with rights too.
In recent days, the United Kingdom government has reached an agreement with Rwanda to send refugees there. This is not the only such “outsourcing” of refugees, dealing with a problem by sending it far away. Out of sight being out of mind as it were — much easier to deal with than putting proactive policies in place that would allow refugees to legally begin a new life in Britain.
While this outsourcing may offer political advantages in boosting domestic support, it does little to enhance the international standing. In contrast, Canada has proven itself to be a beacon to the world for so many, always willing to open its doors and reach out and embrace the desperate and desolate.
For every refugee, the end goal is to either return to their home, communities, family and friends, or to start a new life where families can be built, lives made, futures assured. Placing unrealistic outsourcing models in place does nothing to solve a refugee or migrant crisis.
It simply inserts another impediment and prolongs the journey for the unfortunate who had no other choice but to embark on their journeys of uncertainty. Quick fix solutions are just that. Long-term solutions are needed. The world needs more compassion.