Opinion / Featured Contributors

China's humanitarian contribution to refugee crisis

By Chua Chin Leng ( Updated: 2016-09-23 15:31

The exodus of refugees from their war torn countries in the Middle East is stressing the resources of nations in Europeas they assist in the resettlement of these displaced people. European nations are taking the brunt of the influx and are mired in a political tussle between opposing groups – those in favour of humanitarian aid and those that donot want more refugees ontheir soil. Understandably the presence of the refugees would add strain and demand on social and economic systems and there would be resistance and reluctance to handle the crisis in as humane a way as possible.

Those who say the United States is the main contributor to the refugee problem, argue its leaders are sitting afar and not doing much to ameliorate the problem other than voicing words. US President Barack Obama held a summit at the UN with 52 countries and obtained pledges that critics say could simply fall through when implemented. They say the New York Declaration is just that, a declaration, and thatthe Americans must do more. They say the miserable 10,000 Syrian refugees accepted onto American shores is a drop in the ocean among the65 million refugees awaiting help.

The world can no longer rely on the US to play a leading role in this human tragedy for obvious reasons. The US is not playing the role expected from the richest and most powerful nation in the world and is unlikely to do so going forward with the domestic politics in high fever against taking more refugees into the American continent.

China, far away from the problem, has pledged US$100m in humanitarian aid to the cause of the refugees. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang spoke in the UN that China would do more, want to do more to help the refugees and migrants and would consider more measures if necessary to help countries and international organizations tackling the crisis. This is in addition to the US$1 billion China UN peace and development fund pledged by President Xi Jinping at the 70th UN General Assembly last year. China is considering using a portion of this fund for the refugees.

China has stepped in to fill a leadership void abandoned by the US. China could take on the challenge, work and cooperate with the UN and international agencies and countries in Europe to resolve the crisis on humanitarian ground. The Americans are most welcome to contribute their share when they are pricked by their conscience and to live by their often repeated calls for human rights and the rights of people to live freely and with dignity.

The refugee problem is a human problem affecting the lives of millions of people and all responsible countries must come together and increase their effort and contributions towards this 21th Century problem of enormous proportion. The millions of refugees have the right to live better, to live with dignity and need the help of all responsible countries towards their plight. This is not just Europe’s problem, not just an American problem but a problem of the world, a problem of mankind and the world must work together to help fellow human beings in dire straits.

The failure of the Americans to lead in this crisis does not mean that the nations of the world would just watch from afar and do nothing. The world must go on with or without the Americans. China and other major powers could assume the initiative in working with the UN to help fellow mankind in despair through decisive and constructive actions. The refugee problem is now, an immediate crisis, and cannot wait for things to happen in another few years. It is an urgent task that needs to be managed sensitively, humanely and immediately.


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