This month, New Internationalist magazine focuses on the refugee crisis facing Europe. In a feature article titled ‘Humanity Adrift’, Hazel Healy reports on the refugees arriving in Lesbos and those working to assist them. She meets Linda, a Yazidi woman whose 18-month-old son drowned on the crossing from Turkey, and Yanis Stipsanos, the vice-mayor of Molyvos, who comments that ‘Too many people have died at my place... This is not Lesvos’s problem, it’s humanity’s problem.’
She talks to the RSC Director, Professor Alexander Betts, who tells her: ‘There are 19.5 million refugees in a world population of 7 billion. It’s a manageable problem.’ He adds that Europe, with a population of 700 million, has yet to receive as many people as Lebanon (population less than 6 million). This is not, of course, the first refugee crisis. Previously, as Betts says, Nansen passports (refugee travel documents issued in the interwar years) gave safe passage to nearly 500,000 refugees between 1922 and 1942.
As Healy says, ‘We are failing refugees on a monumental scale.’ And she quotes the RSC’s Professor Cathryn Costello: ‘If everyone arrived with a humanitarian visa, and was claiming asylum in the country they wanted to, things would look very different.’