Ten countries, which account for 2.5% of the global economy, are accommodating more than half of the world's refugees, a report by Amnesty International reveals. It has criticised the wealthy nations for not taking responsibilities, leaving the burden of the worsening crisis of hosting refugees to be borne by poorer countries.
In a report published on Tuesday (4 October), the rights group said 56% of the world's 21 million refugees have been provided shelter by countries neighbouring the crisis zone – all in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
It said even in the countries that accommodate refugees, like Kenya and Pakistan, refugees are facing "harassment" from governments. And for those fleeing homes and seeking shelter in Europe or Australia, the report said, the refugees are forced to embark on dangerous routes following squalid conditions they are made to live in.
Amnesty proposed a solution for the problem calling on every country to find a way to shelter 10% of the world's refugees every year.
"A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbours to a crisis. 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," said Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty.
"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," he added.
Shetty called on the world powers to explain why they cannot find safe homes for the refugees, who account for just 0.3% of the world's population, when they have finance to bail out banks, develop new technologies and fight wars.
The rights group also highlighted stark contrasts in the number of refugees who were taken in by countries neighbouring the war-hit areas when compared to rich countries with similar populations.
Britain, for example, has taken in fewer than 8,000 Syrians since 2011, while Jordan hosts more than 655,000 refugees from Syria. When compared to the UK, Jordan has a population that is almost 10 times smaller than Britain and just 1.2% of its GDP, Amnesty said.
It added that Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million refugees from Syria, while New Zealand with the same population, more land mass area and much better GDP has accommodated only 250 refugees to date. Ireland too, which has a land mass seven times bigger than Lebanon and an economy five times larger, has so far taken in 758 Syrian refugees.
The report accused some EU countries and Australia of using "systemic human rights violations and abuse as a policy tool" to stop welcoming refugees.
"It is not simply a matter of sending aid money. Rich countries cannot pay to keep people 'over there'," the report said.