Syrians crossing the Mediterranean in ramshackle boats bound for Europe; Sudanese refugees, their belongings on their backs, fleeing overland into neighboring countries; children separated from their parents at the US/Mexico border–these are the images that the Global Refugee Crisis conjures to many. In the news we often see photos of people in transit, suffering untold deprivations in desperate bids to escape their countries and find safety. But behind these images, there is a second crisis–a crisis of arrival. Refugees in the 21st century have only three real options–urban slums, squalid refugee camps, or dangerous journeys to seek asylum–and none provide genuine refuge.
In No Refuge, GRI Faculty Affiliate Serena Parekh calls this the second refugee crisis: the crisis of the millions of people who, having fled their homes, are stuck for decades in the dehumanizing and hopeless limbo of refugees camps and informal urban spaces, most of which are in the Global South. Ninety-nine percent of these refugees are never resettled in other countries. Their suffering only begins when they leave their war-torn homes. As Parekh urgently argues by drawing from numerous first-person accounts, conditions in many refugee camps and urban slums are so bleak that to make people live in them for prolonged periods of time is to deny them human dignity.
Drawing from extensive first-hand accounts of life as a refugee with nowhere to go, Parekh argues that we need a moral response to these crises–one that assumes the humanity of refugees in addition to the challenges that states have when they accept refugees.
About the Author:
Serena Parekh is an associate professor of philosophy at Northeastern University in Boston, where she is the director of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program. Her primary philosophical interests are in social and political philosophy, feminist theory, and global justice.