“We are in an unprecedented refugee crisis,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Accompanying Miliband on the stage of Moody Coliseum March 21 was former U.S. ambassador to six countries, Ryan Crocker and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. The three sat on “The Refugee Crisis: Global Challenges, Local Solutions” panel.
Miliband, Crocker and Jenkins discussed the current situation concerning refugees, an unprecedented crisis, in their words.
“Every 24 seconds, one more person is displaced from their home around the world,” Miliband said.
There are currently 65 million people in the world who have been displaced from their homes. Of those 65 million, 25 million are refugees — people who have crossed the borders of their own state and 40 million are displaced in their own state without a home according to Miliband. The panel proposed that simply offering help to refugees is the best way to bring an end to the crisis.
The quantity of people who need help around the world is greater than ever, but the aid offered from countries is edging into its smallest budget, according to Miliband.
Refugees then go to live in countries that offer aid such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.
“One in four Lebanese people is a refugee,” Miliband said.
At this scale, refugees are dehumanized.
“Because of the number of refugees, they go from being a person to a statistic,” Miliband said.
Miliband shocked the audience with his statistics.
Americans have recently unleashed their opposing views following President Trump’s series of executive orders limiting entrance of refugees into the U.S. But the crux isn’t necessarily the orders or bans on refugees themselves, but the fact that American diplomacy has become gilded in the face of politics.
“Refugees and immigrants didn’t use to be a partisan issue,” Crocker said.
Jenkins has even found that politics doesn’t have a place in his responsibilities.
“One thing about being elected office is that your constituency includes everyone,” Jenkins said. “If you’re driving through Dallas County, it’s my job to keep you safe.”
Miliband explained that of 923 people IRC helped resettle in the Dallas area last year, 28 percent were economically self sufficient after 30 days. An IRC study in Lebanon found when they gave refugees $100 it added $216 to the local economy. America also has a unique identity, specifically as it relates to the topic of refugees.
Jenkins told the story of a young Hungarian couple who walked into Austria because they knew they weren’t going to do well under Soviet rule. Within hours of their arrival across the border they were given food, water, and tickets to America.
“Our generation would be the only people here who didn’t come from somewhere else,” Jenkins said.
Crocker echoed the same sentiment.
“Almost every refugee I meet that comes here is a success story,” he said. He attributes success to the courage of refugees in surviving and displacing to another country.
Northwest Community Center is a local organization that serves refugees. It’s also where Crocker often goes with his family and hears all the success stories.
Change isn’t about local leaders, it’s about the community, according to Crocker. Community is the same qualifier used to describe the local center that helps refugees.
Helping refugees then becomes about humans helping humans, the same theme presented throughout the discussion.
Miliband has found that his job is about us, about answering the question, are norms going to be defended by Western countries today?