UN Report: A Record 65.3 Million Displaced
On World Refugee Day, Glen Ford says that the US has had a hand in almost all displacement described in UN High Commissioner for Refugees report
DHARNA NOOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Dharna Noor coming to you from Baltimore.
Today, on World Refugee Day, the UN Refugee Agency issued a new report which shows that global displacement is at an all-time high. 2015 saw 65.3 million people displaced. This is the first time in history that this number has been over 60 million.
Glen Ford is joining us from Plainfield, New Jersey, to talk about this. He’s the co-founder and executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, and the author of The Big Lie: Analysis of the U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion. Thanks for joining us, Glen.
GLEN FORD: Well, thank you for the opportunity.
NOOR: So, Glen, these numbers are just staggering. This report shows that around 24 people around the world were displaced every minute in 2015. Can I just get your initial reactions?
FORD: Well, what really is staggering is the culpability of one country in the world for this huge mass of suffering around the planet. If you create a kind of top 10 of the worst refugee crises afflicting the world, you’ll find that all but one or maybe arguably two of these refugee crises are direct results of U.S. foreign policy.
So we can go down the list, and I think that we can see what ails U.S. foreign policy in, through the list of countries that are afflicted with refugee crises. The number one country on that top 10 list is, of course, Syria. And we all know that the United States and its allies have armed and financed those folks who are, who have been waging war against the government of Syria for the last five years or so. A quarter million people have died in that war, and about 11 million people are some kind of refugee, according to the United Nations.
If we go down to number two on the list, that’s on another continent, Colombia in South America. It’s notable because it’s the biggest exporter of cocaine on the planet. But it is also the place where we have the largest number of internal refugees in the world. That is, refugees who don’t move across their nation’s borders, but have been forced out of their homes nonetheless. And that is due to U.S. foreign policy in Colombia, which backs a government which has created policies that have forced millions of indigenous Colombians and Afro-Colombians off of their land.
Iraq is number three, and of course, that is a situation in which the united States is complicit. Iraq, for a time, had the highest number of internal refugees in the world, surpassing Colombia. Many of them have since left the country. So Iraq is number three overall in worldwide refugees.
Number four is Afghanistan, where the United States has waged a kind of 21st century type of war, but one that began around 1980, when the U.S. and the Saudi Arabians and the Pakistanis created for the first time, never witnessed on the face of the earth, an international jihadist network in order to wage war against the Soviets. Well, these jihadist networks have been waging war ever since, with varying degrees of aid from the United States and the Saudis and the Pakistanis, and thus generating millions of refugees all around the world.
The only nation in the top 10 in which the United States is not arguably complicit is the nation of Sudan, which is number five, and it has 4 million refugees. But even Sudan bears the mark of U.S. interference, because the United States and Israel have been seeking to undermine the Sudanese government for about the last 30 years, and that has contributed to the instability that creates refugees. And that drive by the United States, especially against the Sudanese government, created the new country of South Sudan, which gained its independence with massive help from the Americans and their allies. Now, South Sudan is number seven in the list of countries that contribute to refugees in the world. Its civil war has generated millions, about 2.5 million refugees.
We also have Yemen, a war in which the United States backs the Saudis, who are waging a fight against a Houthi and other faction government that has put Yemen in position number, I believe, nine in the world in terms of refugees. One out of every ten people in Yemen is a refugee.
I think a very special case, and I’ll leave it at this one, can be made for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC is one of the top 10 in refugees. It’s got about 3 million people who have been displaced from their homes. But this really understates the case, and it understates U.S. involvement, because twice as many people in the Congo are now dead, 6 million of them, because of invasions of the Congo carried out by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda. The United States not only backed those countries and their invasions, but tried to cover up the consequences, the resulting genocide. And so Congo is number one in terms of genocide since the end of World War II, as well as way up there in the number of refugees.
If we look at the world in its totality, we get the distinct impression that much of the misery that people who have lost their homes and even their countries are suffering is because of the United States. We see what the world looks like when there is one superpower in charge.
NOOR: So, going back to the top of the list, in Syria specifically it’s like half of the Syrian population that’s been displaced from their homes. In light of that, can you speak about the letter that 51 diplomats wrote last week, this open letter calling for Obama to overthrow Bashar al-Assad?
FORD: They want to double down on the worst refugee crisis in the world, and on a quarter million deaths. They seem to believe that the U.S. policy of destabilization, which has led directly to this crisis, needs to be toned up, or tuned up. That we need more bombs, not less, in order to solve the problem. And we need to stack more bodies in the pile and drive more families out into a world that they have been forced to confront without a country.
NOOR: And what about the internal struggles within these countries? You know, people often bring up the fact that, you know, what about the fact that Bashar al-Assad is issuing more strikes against the people of Syria himself?
FORD: Well, that is an internal problem of Syria. But the United States as a country that is clearly violating international law, and doing so every day, and threatening to carry out acts that are even more illegal, is in no position to criticize the way the Assad government defends itself against the troops that the United States has arrayed against it. I don’t even understand how that kind of logic makes any sense to folks, unless they believe that the U.S. can do no harm and no wrong in the world, despite the illegality of its policies, and despite the human suffering that they cause.
NOOR: Right. And can we talk about who’s hosting these refugees? The report shows that it’s mostly mid-income nation-states near conflict areas that are taking them in, even though the mainstream media has been so focused on this European refugee crisis. And then also, the U.S. has promised to take in 10,000 this year, but it’s not actually looking like that promise will be met.
FORD: Well, Turkey’s taking in the largest number. They’re being paid by the Europeans to hold the Syrians there, to keep them from crossing over into European territory. But Turkey is not doing the world a humanitarian service by taking in these refugees, given that Turkey bears the responsibility, along with the United States and the Saudis and the Gulf countries, and of course Britain and France, the whole gang for this war that created the refugees. Turkey is sowing the seeds that it has planted in Syria, in the form of refugees.
NOOR: And how should the U.S. be facing this crisis? What kind of foreign policy would be correct in addressing this huge refugee crisis?
FORD: Call off the war. The war is the cause of the refugee crisis. The war was started by the United States and its allies. We know when it began. We know when the Libyan jihadists who had been fighting in collaboration with the United States in their own country in 2011, we know when they began arriving in Syria. It’s all a matter of public record. The United States is obligated to unwind the crime that it’s committed.
NOOR: Right. Thank you so much for joining us to talk about this, Glen, and we’ll certainly be continuing to follow the unraveling of this UN report.
FORD: Thank you.
NOOR: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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