Share

[feather_share]

Guest Editorial

Migration – put humanity first

I imagine the onward journey this child will make. Along the way, will he be held in the arms of an Austrian Red Cross volunteer? Will he receive a meal from the German Red Cross or get medical care from another National Society, depending on where his family goes next? Perhaps they have already been helped by the Movement, in the country from which they fled or somewhere else well before landing in Europe.

Along heavily travelled migration routes in Europe and beyond, the Movement’s direct, front-line assistance and compassionate response make a powerful statement: whatever their current legal status, people fleeing conflict, persecution, poverty or natural disaster deserve to be treated with humanity. Fortunately, many others also take this stance. Moved by images and news of desperate migrants, people around the world have stepped forward to help weary, tired and hungry migrants.

Earlier this year, the world was deeply moved by another image — the photo of a migrant child, a Syrian boy named Aylan, who drowned in the waters between Turkey and Greece. This tragedy shocked the conscience of many, inspired even greater empathy for migrant families and helped change the tide of public opinion. It even helped shift migration policy in certain countries.

Still, discussion at the international level too often focuses on securing borders, rather than on understanding the causes, providing long-term solutions and offering a humane response. People fleeing for their lives from cities destroyed by bombs or escaping persecution, starvation or the aftershock of natural disasters, will always seek new pathways to safety. If legal avenues to migration are increasingly restricted, those routes are likely to become even more dangerous.

Earlier this year, the Movement launched the Protect Humanity campaign (#ProtectHumanity) in which we ask people around the world to join our call for the protection and dignified treatment of people along all migratory routes. We will present this call to states gathered in Geneva, Switzerland in December for the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, a global meeting convened every four years to discuss critical humanitarian concerns and concrete proposals for reducing human suffering.

What are we calling on states to do? Along migratory routes, governments must take the necessary steps to protect the safety, well-being and dignity of all migrants, regardless of their legal status. Migrants must have full access to humanitarian assistance, while states must be prepared to search for and rescue people in distress at sea and work harder to protect and assist victims of human trafficking.

Asylum seekers must have access to fair and efficient processes for determining asylum claims, as well as medical care and the means of staying connected with their families. Public officials, meanwhile, must clearly articulate their rejection of violence, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants. Finally, everyone concerned must work together to find political, economic and social solutions to address the root causes of forced migration.

As a global humanitarian network, the Movement is present in countries where conflict, chronic instability, poverty and natural disaster force people to flee their homes in great distress. What we see in these places tells us that we have much work to do to prevent and reduce suffering and to protect vulnerable people, wherever they may be.

We must also work together much more effectively — in countries of origin, transit and destination — to place human beings at the centre of our collective response. Together, we can greatly diminish the despair along dangerous migratory routes and even put an end to these devastating photographs of shipwrecks and drowned children. Sign the petition at #ProtectHumanity or www.ifrc.org/protecthumanity and join our call for a safer and more humane world.

Related

What happens when machines can decide who to kill?

It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.

‘Wildfire diaries’ and radical change in communications

In this episode, we talk with humanitarian communicator Kathy Mueller who produced our first magazine podcast series, The Wildfire Diaries, about massive wildfires in Northern Canada in 2017. We talk about that series, her many international missions, and the big changes in humanitarian communications since she began with the Canadian Red Cross almost 20 years ago.

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

This post is also available in:

Discover more stories

Get stories worth sharing delivered to your inbox

Want to stay up to date?

This might interest you...

Seeing the world, and helping others, through science

As a biologist who responds to emergencies for the Spanish Red Cross, Eva Turró has found her place in the humanitarian world, raising awareness about the life-saving link between health and hygiene in the wake of calamity.

Check it out