The problem of refugees becomes as serious as it was during the 1960s and the 1970s. The 20th century was marked with two world wars, a series of local wars and the change of political regimes as a result of military coups or revolutions. The beginning of the 21st century was marred with the global economic and social crisis, which seriously affected refugees.
A report from the UN High Commissariat for Refugees said that 42 million people in the world were forced to leave their homes and countries because of various conflicts. International agencies can help only 25 million of them. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres stated that many countries were turning their backs on those people seeking political asylum. Thousands of people, fleeing from persecution and wars, have to face severe life experiences and even death.
"The truth is that we are witnessing in several countries xenophobic feelings to gain strength and because of that and the pressure, some governments are limiting access for people in need of protection to their territories," said Antonio Guterres. "And, not only that, we are witnessing more and more severe mechanisms in, for instance, granting refugee status or other forms of protection."
Refugees from Asia and Africa are not welcomed in Europe, the official acknowledged. Many of them are arrested or not even allowed to disembark. As a result, many refugees find themselves involved in human trafficking schemes, hundreds of people die as they try to cross the Gulf of Aden or the Mediterranean Sea traveling in tiny boats.
The combination of the global and the social crises against the background of climate changes and the shortage of foodstuffs on the planet will only exacerbate the present conflicts, Guterres said.
"There are more and more things to do and there are less and less resources available to support them. And, this creates a very difficult environment for humanitarian action in today's world," the official added.
Working at international humanitarian organizations becomes dangerous too against the background of such conditions. Humanitarian work in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo is associated with deadly risks.