The refugee crises you don't hear about

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Wednesday 11 November 2015 18:30
news

EU and African leaders are meeting in Malta this week to discuss the ongoing refugee crisis as thousands of people from the Middle East and North Africa continue to die on Europe's doorstep.

The plight of the millions who have fled civil war in Syria and Isis and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan is well documented, even if these desperate people don't end up finding sanctuary elsewhere.

But there is less understanding of the conflicts, discrimination, long-standing poverty and environmental issues that drive people from other countries around the world to risk everything by leaving home.

Just some of the other festering problems world leaders are being called on to address at the EU-African summit and the UN COP21 climate conference in Paris later this month are:

1. Eritrea

Two Eritreans sit beside a lake near the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles on July 30, 2015 in Calais, France (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Tiny Eritrea in the horn of Africa has no elections, court system or free press. Most people are forced into some kind of subsistence labour or military service and dissenters are sent to prison.

It has been described as the "North Korea of Africa".

2. Yemen

Yemeni displaced children sit at a school turned into a shelter in the capital Sanaa on August 19, 2015 (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)

The Yemeni Civil War is one of the most underreported stories of our times. The low level longstanding Houthi insurgency against the government increased in severity during the fallout of the 2011 Arab Spring, culminating in the seizure of the government compound in Sanaa in January 2015.

1.5 million people have been internally displaced by the fighting and people are so desperate they're even fleeing to unstable Somalia.

3. The Lake Chad Basin

Children rescued by Nigerian soldiers from Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest sit together at Malkohi refugee camp in Yola, on May 5, 2015 (Emmanuel Arewa/AFP/Getty Images)

The Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria is now affecting the countries which border the area united by Lake Chad, which includes Chad itself as well as Niger and Cameroon.

Drought and deepening poverty are also contributing to increasing tensions in the basin. Chad declared a state of emergency this week as the government struggles to repel Boko Haram.

4. Australian detention centres in Papua New Guinea, Christmas Island, Cocos and Nauru

A detainee walks back to her room after hanging up her laundry at the detention centre used for younger men and women and children on February 26, 2012 on Christmas Island, Australia (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

In Australia there is mandatory detention for anyone without a valid visa, and as of 2013 anyone arriving by boat will not be settled in the country even if they are found to be "valid" refugees, but rather in Papua New Guinea.

There are increasing reports of violence and rape at the country's outsourced Pacific island detention centres.

5. Central America

Refugees rest at a shelter in Alvarado, Veracruz, Mexico, on September 10, 2010 (Sergio Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images)

Drug cartel violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has driven thousands north to Mexico, which is fighting internal wars against narco gangs of its own.

The US has spent millions of dollars on funding Mexican programmes to find and deport non-citizens, effectively stopping them from reaching the US border.

6. The Rohingya of Burma

Rohingya refugees Asyah (23), left, and Mojuha (20), sit at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Indonesia, on October 27, 2015 (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Around 1.3 million ethnically Muslim Rohingyas live in Burma, and they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, denied many basic rights by the military junta that has ruled the country for decades.

What's more, those who have tried to leave in the last few years often fall victim to traffickers, captured by slaving syndicates and trapped into working on fishing boats.

7. Burundi

Women walk past a burning barricade set up by protestors in Bujumbura on Burundi's election day on July 21, 2015 (Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 210,000 people have fled post-election violence since Burundi's sitting president Pierre Nkurunziza changed the constitution to give himself a third term. The country's fragile peace is under threat as tensions between the army and political groups simmer under the surface.

8. Forced removal of Roma people


Roma or Romani people have been discriminated against for centuries and the tradition continues in Europe today. A camp of mostly Roma on the outskirts of Malmo in Sweden was raided last month. More than 200 people's homes were destroyed and the local authorities only have plans to rehouse 40 people as winter sets in.

9. Sudan and South Sudan

A woman and her children displaced by fighting in South Sudan sit outside her tent at the Kule camp at the Pagak border crossing in Gambella, Ethiopia, on July 10, 2014 (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

The government is still carrying out atrocities against its people in Darfur and Kordofan as it tries to fight separatist groups. The newly-created nation of South Sudan has also been plagued by conflict since its birth in 2011.

10. Pakistan

A Pakistani soldier walks amidst the debris in an army-run school in Peshawar, a day after an attack by Taliban militants that killed 141 on December 17, 2014 (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 20,000 people have been killed in recent years mainly in the north of the country by fighting between insurgency groups such as the Taliban and government and American forces.

11. Somalia

Somalian refugees queue for a bus to transport them to Dagahaley refugee camp, which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on the Kenyan-Somali border on July 23, 2011 (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Islamist group Al-Shabaab has inflicted misery on civilian Somalis for decades, effectively turning the country into a failed state.

For a while it seemed as though the hundreds of thousands of people who fled to Kenya and other neighbouring countries might be able to return home, but there has been an escalation in violence in the last two years or so, and the worst drought in the region in 60 years has also forced many more to leave.

12. Libya

A woman and child enter Tunisia from Libya on March 02, 2011 in Ras Jdir, Tunisia (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Libya is a transit destination for many refugees trying to reach the shores of Europe, but the power vacuum left by the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has led to spiralling violence between government forces, tribal militias and jihadist groups which has displaced 430,000 people.

13... and climate change

Flooding in the Marshall Islands in March 2014 left 1,000 people homeless. The king tide and storm surges were blamed on climate change (Giff Johnson/AFP/Getty Images)

Climate change is likely to outpace even war as the biggest driver of global migration in years to come. The world's first climate change asylum seekers, a family from Kiribati, were rejected by New Zealand and deported home in September.

As extreme weather, flooding and sea level rise affect low-land areas, up to 650 million people in the Pacific Islands, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh may be affected.

More: Winter is coming, Jeremy Corbyn warns at Refugees Welcome rally

More: An open letter to anyone who ever talked down the refugee crisis

Trending