Vijay Prashad in AlterNet:
The UN Refugee Agency has announced the new figures for the world’s displaced: 65.9 million. That means that 65.9 million human beings live as refugees, asylum seekers or as internally displaced people. If the refugees formed a country, it would be the 21st largest state in the world, just after Thailand (68.2 million) and just ahead of the United Kingdom (65.5 million). But unlike these other states, refugees have few political rights and no real representation in the institutions of the world. The head of the UN Refugee Agency, Filippo Grandi, recently said that most of the displacement comes as a result of war. "The world seems to have become unable to make peace," Grandi said. "So you see old conflicts that continue to linger, and new conflicts erupting, and both produce displacement. Forced displacement is a symbol of wars that never end." Few continents are immune from the harsh reality of war. But the epicenter of war and displacement is along the axis of the Western-driven global war on terror and resource wars. The line of displacement runs from Afghanistan to South Sudan with Syria in between. Eyes are on Syria, where the war remains hot and the tensions over escalation intensify daily. But there is as deadly a civil war in South Sudan, driven in large part by a ferocious desire to control the country’s oil. Last year, 340,000 people fled South Sudan for refugee camps in neighboring Uganda. This is a larger displacement than from Syria.
Poverty is a major driver of displacement. It is what moves hundreds of thousands of people to try and cross the Sahara Desert and then the Mediterranean Sea for European pastures. But most who try this journey meet a deadly fate. Both the Sahara and the Mediterranean are dangerous. This week, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Niger rescued 600 migrants from the Sahara, although 52 did not survive. A 22-year-old woman from Nigeria was among those rescued. She was on a pick-up truck with 50 people. They left Agadez for Libya. ‘We were in the desert for ten days,’ she says. "After five days, the driver abandoned us. He left us with all of our belongings, saying he was going to pick us up in a couple of hours. But he never did." Forty-four of the migrants died. The six who remained struggled to safety. ‘We had to drink our own pee to survive,’ she said.