The war in Syria, the takeover of Afghanistan, and the financial crisis in Venezuela resulted in great numbers of refugees. There could be hundreds of reasons why people try to run from their home country. Whether it’s political violence, extreme poverty, or healthcare shortages, it is a threatening environment. 

Did you know that close to 1 million children were born as refugees in those 3 years? And that The UN Refugee Agency estimates that there are more than 4.3 million stateless people in the world? Here are the biggest crises in the world: 

Development & current situation in Belarus

Currently, about 3,000 to 4,000 refugees gathering in Belarus to cross the Belarus-Poland border. The refugees try to get access to European territory, which is for many the doorway to a better life. The European government considers this as the biggest refugee challenge since the Syrian-Turkey crisis in 2015.

According to NPR, the biggest group of refugees gathered in the woods, near the Poland border, where they do not have access to clean drinking water or food. Besides this, refugees don’t have any shelter from the rain and cold temperatures brought by winter. Many refugees have spent a lot of their last financial resources to get to the border. They hope to settle in a stable European country like Germany. The Polish authorities feel threatened by having many refugees enter their country in a short period. Therefore, they respond aggressively to the crowds of migrants. The authorities are throwing stones, using water cannons, tear gas, and physical power (CNN). The result of this ongoing violence is that many people get injured while trying to cross the border. And most of them remain trapped in the borderline without resources.

Lukashenko, the first and current president of the Republic of Belarus since 1994, is known as Europe’s last dictator. The Economist states that he stole the 2020 elections, which led to huge protests throughout the country. After that, the police arrested, assaulted, and tortured thousands of protesters. According to Al Jazeera, the United States, European Union, and the United Kingdom are currently not supporting and recognising him as the president. 

NPR states that the cause of this crisis reverts to Belarus. Lukashenko’s regime is being accused of encouraging migrants to assemble in the capital Minsk. And to encourage them to use violence while crossing the Polish border. In testimonials, refugees claim that they have been contacted by tourism agencies promising that crossing the border would be easy, and would only take a few hours. NPR speculates that it could be part of a strategic plan to destabilise Poland. Which could result in more influence over the region by Belarus. According to the BBC, Lukashenko’s regime denies these accusations.

Be that as it may, refugee groups keep  growing with no real solution in sight.

What is the world doing about the Belarus crisis?

According to The Guardian, there will be sanctions appointed to Belarus when it is proven that they are requesting refugees to gather and violently cross the border with Poland. However, it’s unclear if these measures will have a direct impact on the situation. 

Due to the status of Germany, as one of the countries that would have the largest amount of new migrants when the refugees enter Poland, Merkel and Lukashenko are negotiating about the current situation (NPR). Until now, the agreement has resulted in  Belarus transporting some of the refugees with buses to other areas, away from the Polish border. 

To this point, it is uncertain what is going to happen with the remaining and transported refugees in Belarus. On the other hand, it is certain that neither the European Union nor Belarus is taking responsibility for the situation. The refugees have become part of a political crossfire, where they are in the frontline taking the first blows (NPR).

Development and current situation in Afghanistan

The political disruption in Afghanistan has its origin in 2001. On that day, two planes destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City, also known as the 9/11 attacks. Which resulted in the death of 2,977 people. The United States identified the terrorist group al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden, as the group behind these attacks. The group planned it from Afghanistan. Therefore, President George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan a month later. For almost 20 years, the US stayed in the country to ensure stability and keep the Taliban away from power.

Even though the Taliban and al-Qaeda are not the same organisation, Osama bin Laden pledged loyalty to the Taliban in 1990. They call the pledge “bay’ah” and it is a sacred relationship that rarely breaks. To this day none of the groups has  broken this pledge.

In August 2021, the US military fully withdrew its military presence in Afghanistan. The comeback of the Taliban ensued, under the rule of Hibatullah Akhundzada, having now taken over the country. Currently, the rights of millions of Afghan citizens are violated, including the right to work and access to education.

According to the BBC, 51,613 civilians, 69,000 military/policemen, and 51,191 Taliban fighters have died due to the conflict between 2001 and 2021. 43% of the civilians that died in 2020 were women and children. Not everyone has been able to flee the country before 2021, when there were already 2.9 million internally displaced Afghans. The United Nations Refugee Agency states that over half a million Afghans moved this year within Afghanistan. Many had to flee in an instant due to unsafe conditions, leaving all their belongings behind.

According to the UNHRC, there are 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide outside of Afghanistan. However, more than 2.2 million Afghans are in the two neighbouring countries Iran and Pakistan. Worldwide Afghanistan is number 3 on the list of ‘’home of most refugees’’. Syria is first on the list with 6.8 million refugees and Venezuela with 4.1 million, respectively.  

What is the world doing about the Afghanistan crisis?

During the G20 Summit, the leaders announced an aid package of 1 billion euros. The leaders allocated 250 million euros to support Afghan people in urgent needs. They already allocated 300 million euros to humanitarian support purposes, including vaccinations, shelter, and protection of human rights. And the remaining amount of the aid package will go to the neighbouring countries that take refugees in. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “to avert a major humanitarian and socioeconomic collapse in Afghanistan. We need to do it fast.” 

At the same time, Omar Abdi, UNICEF’S Deputy Executive Director says that “Even before the Taliban takeover, at least 10 million children across the country were in need of humanitarian assistance to survive.”. He claims that the situation will get worse with the winter coming: “At least 1 million of those are at risk of dying from severe malnutrition”. 

Development & Current situation in Venezuela

Presently, a humanitarian crisis is growing in Venezuela. This crisis is a result of continuous political mismanagement, which has unfolded into an economic crisis. To understand the cause of this crisis, it is necessary to know the economic history of Venezuela. In the past decades, Venezuela’s economy has mainly been dependent on the country’s oil production. This is because of their status as ‘’Home of the largest oil reserves in the world’’ (World Vision).

At the beginning of the regime of Hugo Chávez in 1999, oil prices had been continuously increasing. The price of an oil barrel was around 108 (USD) in 2013. That time was a period of fast  acceleration for the Venezuelan economy. However, with the new and effective technologies in oil drilling, global production experienced a boost, as the oil demand remained the same. This contributed to a dramatic decrease in oil prices in 2016, where a barrel of oil was at 43 (USD). Because of these reduced prices, Venezuela lost a critical share in their countries GDP (World Vision)

Due to shortages of external income, the Venezuelan economy shrunk enormously. Despite this occurrence, the government proceeded with its policy of mainly relying on oil reserves, in the hope of economic stabilisation in the future.  In the past years, the prices have risen to 70 (USD) in 2021. However, they are still not high enough to provide Venezuela its financial stability. Internally, the economical discussion is causing a lot of friction within the country’s politics. 

According to the BBC, due to the continuous shortages in food, clean drinking water, medicines and increasing violence, the citizens’ governmental trust has vanished. This contributes to even more internal hyperinflation and corruption. The ongoing struggle of citizens to maintain a stable life in Venezuela, has resulted in massive migration streams to neighboring countries, such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. The search for a better life remains, while an estimated 35,000 Venezuelans cross the border daily.  

What is the world doing about the Venezuelan crisis?

To respond to the many refugees in the surrounding countries of Venezuela, organisations, such as World Vision, have been supplying hygiene kits, healthcare, and building shelter to take care of the displaced individuals. Since 2019, World Vision has been of service to more than 455,000 Venezuelans. However, in the continuous battle against the phantoms of the Venezuelan crisis, the masses of people remain to grow,  which could develop into bigger problems in the future.

Do all crises have the same cause?

There are a lot of different factors that increase the number of refugees. While the Venezuelan crisis is mainly caused by a financial crisis, the Belarus situation was created due to political disagreement and the Afghanistan crisis started due to terrorism in the US. But more causes lead to refugees. For example, check out these blogs to learn about environmental refugees or LGBTIQ migration

On the other hand, the situations in these countries have a lot of similar consequences, such as people suffering, food shortages, and violence. Refugees hope for a better life on the other side of the border and are willing to risk everything, from their life to their last savings. 

Organisations may give a temporary solution to the struggles caused by crises in countries. However, when the main problems in the areas are not resolved, the crisis will continue to persist. 

Check out this blog to read some refugee success stories.





Author: Souhail Boussalem

Souhail is a marketing intern at SPEAK, he is a student at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands and he moved to Lisbon in September. He loves to surf and to explore the city.

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