Global refugee crisis in the spotlight at Africa University/ Raoul Wallenberg Public Lecture
16 August 2018
By Jeanette Dadzie
Professor Morten Kjaerum, a human rights lawyer who is the Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden since 2015 delivered a scintillating and powerful public lecture on the 16th of August 2018 on the refugee situation in Europe, the challenges and opportunities it holds and the exploration of prospective avenues for joint cooperation between Europe and Africa.
According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. Two-thirds of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia (UNHCR 2018).
Arica University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa who delivered the opening remarks of the public lecture stated that AU holds a strong conviction in the power of education to truly transform lives, especially of those whose lives have been disrupted and uprooted by crisis . He went on to say,
“ Through the programmes that the university offers that teach the practical values of leadership, entrepreneurship and our strong focus on student success, we ensure that our contribution towards development on the continent and globally is meaningful and sustainable.”
The partnership between Africa University and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute dates back to 2011 and was founded on the shared drive and passion for the improvement of the lives people across the globe irrespective of race or creed and grounded in research that allows for the formulation of informed, timely and relevant policies by world governments.
Professor Kjaerum in his address said,
“What drives migration ultimately is the will to survive. People migrate because of persecution, war, repressive regimes and even because of economics. Currently, Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees and migration determines politics on so many levels.”
He went on to explain that the politics of fear of different ethnicities and cultures has been seized upon and used to agitate for politics that favour exclusion and distrust with examples of the increasing growth in popularity of far right political groups that are weary of other religions, ethnicities and cultures serving as a case study of this.
Professor Kjaerum said that it is of paramount importance to treat those displaced with dignity and respect understanding the difficult and trying circumstances that they have come from and aim to make their lives better. He added, that while the refugee situation is truly a complex one that does not hold any lasting solutions in the near future, policies that have worked in the past hold the key. What allowed those that faced similar crises to rise above them was solidarity between nations, a concerted and committed effort to resolve conflicts where they arise and the offer of assistance to those who need it the most where no quick gains can be seized upon to achieve peace are to be found.