Saturday Star

Why people seek asylum


FROM Washington DC to cities across the UK, US President Donald Trump’s 120-day ban on asylum seekers and indefinite suspension of all Syrian refugees from entering the country has been met with alarm. Many feel the ban has unjustly targeted Islamic countries, dubbing it the “Muslim ban”, and the rage directed at the administra­tion is based upon the defence of the liberal values of freedom of movement and religion. But there is something else to be concerned about: This isn’t about defending theoretica­l values, this is about practicali­ties.

As Angela Merkel reminded Trump on Monday, the right to escape conflict and persecutio­n has been enshrined in the Geneva Convention since 1951.

Here is a rundown of what people are running from when they try to seek asylum.

Sudan Since i n d e p e n d e n c e, Sudan’s history has been marked by high inflation, a shrinking economy and protracted conflict. More than 2.3 million people have been displaced, many living in the ians. Three million people are displaced within the country. Mosul, the second city, was captured by Isis militants in 2014.

An estimated 350 000 children are trapped in siege-like conditions as the Iraqi campaign to retake the city continues. More than 160 000 have been displaced since the start of the offensive in October.

Yemen The civil war hasn’t reached its second anniversar­y and yet 80% of the population – 21.2 million people – need life-saving assistance. More than three million children and mothers are acutely malnourish­ed and lack of nutrition is causing crippling impairment­s.

Somalia An estimated 350 000 to a million Somalis have died in a civil war that has lasted nearly three decades. The world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya has more than 300 000 Somalis. With a young, frustrated population feeding into extremist groups, insurgency is being waged within its borders. About 320 000 children are malnourish­ed. – The Independen­t

Victor is director of policy and advocacy at Mercy Corps, a humanitari­an aid agency working in more than 40 countries.

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