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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

Amnesty International report highlights 'a low point in refugee policy'

Dr Liza Schuster comments on a new report from Amnesty International on global refugee policy


Commenting on the Amnesty International report into the global refugee crisis, Dr Liza Schuster of City, University of London says the world has reached a “low point” in refugee policy.

The new report criticises the UN for failing “spectacularly” in helping the world’s 21 million refugees, including those from Afghanistan.

Dr Schuster, who has spent more than three years in Afghanistan researching asylum policy and deportation, is currently on secondment to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations in Kabul.

She said: “The Amnesty report carefully details the failure of the United Nations General Assembly, and especially its wealthy, democratic members to provide a coherent and humane response to the 21 million people who have been forced to leave their homes to seek refuge outside their countries of origin. Its publication follows the signing of the EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward on migration issues on 3rd October 2016, which further distances European Union member states from anything more than a formal commitment to minimal protection for refugees.

“The failure detailed in this report, and the EU’s effective bullying of Afghanistan – the producer of the largest overall population of refugees in the world and the second largest after Syria in recent years – are evidence of a lack of political courage and imagination. While Angela Merkel showed a flash of both in 2015, she was ridiculed and shunned by her fellow member states that year, and this year punished by an electorate confirmed in their fears by less scrupulous politicians. This week, she called President Ghani personally to pressure him to sign the agreement or face a withdrawal of aid.

“This is a low point in refugee policy – the only question is, how much lower will these states sink as the numbers in need of protection continue to grow?”

Dr Liza Schuster is a Reader in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London.

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