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Our Duty to Migrants and Refugees

DHAKA – The indefinite ban on Syrian refugees imposed by the United States has cast a bright spotlight on one of the great challenges of our time. What should we do with the millions of refugees fleeing war and persecution around the world?

The scale of today’s refugee crisis is staggering: worldwide, an unprecedented 65 million people have been forced to flee from their homes; and, in 2016 alone, over 7,500 migrants – men, women, and children – died while desperately trying to reach safety, of which 5,083 perished in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the Andaman Sea, thousands of migrants have been stranded on boats without a port of disembarkation, while traffickers hold them for ransom; similar vulnerabilities have been observed in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Central American corridor.

Meanwhile, anti-migrant sentiment in host countries is reaching fever pitch. Instead of building trust, many politicians have been sowing fear, and calling for ethnic or religious discrimination against those who have been forced from their homelands. Rather than promoting safe and orderly migration, many countries are proposing policies to reduce or stop migration altogether.