Below is a column by David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated into English.
The most recent global events, inevitably, have an immediate repercussion on the migration issue: from the endless arrival of desperate migrants to the southern border of the United States, to the recent social protests in Cuba, to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and subsequent earthquake in Haiti —with more than 1,900 dead in this Caribbean country— to the return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
The causes are different, of course, but the human movement towards anywhere that safety can be found is the first recourse to which thousands of victims necessarily, and inevitably, cling, whether due to the insulting poverty in different parts of the Latin American region; the choking lack of freedoms and the eternal nature of an already inexplicable economic blockade; an unexpected, brutal political destabilization in an extremely poor nation or a devastating natural disaster in the same; or panic provoked by a regime of terrorism and religious fanaticism.
It’s like being part of the root of the migration exodus and of the multiple shattered hopes of the world, at the same time.
This provokes a second international humanitarian crisis in which men, women, and children confront the unspeakable, on their way to a physical and emotional accommodation that often seems unreachable.
That is, referring to the concrete origin that provokes immediate migration exoduses—not inventions that invite speculation—many of those who are on the side of anti-immigrant movements across the globe have done far more harm than good to humanity. The United States is not an exception and has reliably shown, especially during the prior administration, that it was plagued with xenophobes and proselytes of racism.
Right now, in the specific case of the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, for example, even in the early days of August during the Taliban takeover, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed, according to the United Nations, a figure that will surely grow in the coming days, while the UNHCR calculates that more than 270,000 people have had to leave their homes. The organization Save the Children estimates that some 80,000 Afghan children have had to emigrate since June, due to the imminent danger of the Taliban’s arrival in Kabul.
What’s more, also according to Save the Children, more than 600,000 people have been displaced from conflict zones during the last year, a figure that includes 360,000 more boys and girls. That is why it is morally necessary that, following its exit from Afghanistan, the United States not forget its Afghan allies in this moment of terror.
These figures are from a very specific conflict alone, but when one takes a historic-geographic look at the world’s hot spots, the migratory reality of refugees is manifested right before our eyes, in all of its harshness.
Just a couple of years ago, for example, the UN also reported that the number of migrants around the world had reached 272 million, 51 million more than in 2010. From this large number reached in 2019, 82 million people lived in Europe, while 59 million lived in North America. These figures represent nothing less than 3.5% of the worldwide population.
More data also from UNHCR: 82.4 million people displaced in the world by the end of 2020, as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events that seriously disrupted public order. Of that number, 40 percent were girls and boys in 2019, with between 30 and 34 million children.
These are the hard and quantifiable facts of migration, of course, but we cannot forget that each number is a human being who is fleeing a specific situation in search of safety, at the same exact moment in which one of the most devastating pandemics in the history of humanity —COVID-19— continues attacking the world, with new strains and a rise in illnesses that now affects the youngest people as well.
For that reason, every time an anti-immigrant person decides to lay bare his more intricate and racist reasons to reject the Other —the migrant, the refugee— he should open his eyes a little bit more and his mouth a little bit less to be able to analyze a reality that involves all of us, since no one knows at what point in time destiny will betray us. It could start, for example, with some light reading about Central America, the U.S./Mexico border, Cuba, Haiti, or Afghanistan, just to mention a few examples that have come very close to those of us who form this generation of human beings on this planet, at this moment in humanity.
Displacement will always be the best mirror in which to see our biggest miseries as a human race reflected. So much so that fleeing from all of this is natural, logical, and what must be done to save life and guarantee its existence to our loved ones. It’s like seeking the necessary refuge of our days.
That’s how it has always been in the history of humanity, and it will continue to be this way as long as sufficient motivations to escape danger, persecution, hunger, and despair exist.
Read the Spanish version of this article here.