Observatory of Human Rights in Rwanda – “Reflections on the Condition of Refugees: A Global Urgency”

On June 20, 2024, World Refugee Day was marked by a statement from the Observatory of Human Rights in Rwanda (ODHR), led by Laurent Munyandilikirwa. This day dedicated to refugees comes at a time when migration policies are alarmingly tightening worldwide, and the dignity of refugees is increasingly threatened.

The current reality of migration policies reveals a disturbing trend in democracies once known for their openness and respect for human rights. Western nations, in particular, which have long been bastions of migrant protection, are now showing increasing closure. Ironically, these same countries, once involved in colonial and slave practices, are now turning against migrants, viewing them as undesirable.

This shift is evident in the controversies surrounding bilateral migration agreements, such as the one between London and Kigali. These agreements, which treat migrants as mere commodities, are being watched with interest by other European nations, ready to follow this model. Meanwhile, African countries like Rwanda see this as an economic opportunity, despite the serious implications for human rights.

The ODHR harshly criticizes the weakening of democratic voices that should defend the rights of refugees. Extremist views are gaining ground, appealing to younger generations who often ignore the lessons of the past, including the struggles for equality and social justice. These young people fail to realize that migration has been a driving force in building prosperous societies, such as in America.

International conventions, such as the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, seem increasingly neglected. These agreements, intended to protect vulnerable individuals, are being circumvented by those who originally initiated them.

The situation is particularly worrying in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Decades of conflicts, often fueled by foreign interests, have resulted in millions of deaths and massive population displacements. The Rwandan regime, in particular, is accused of exploiting the refugee issue to pursue territorial ambitions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This manipulation has devastating consequences, causing waves of displacement and chronic regional insecurity.

It is imperative to radically change current migration policies to protect refugees. The protection of refugees and migrants must be a global priority, not only for humanitarian reasons but also to ensure a stable and just future. Recognizing migration as a legitimate struggle for survival and human dignity is essential.

On this World Refugee Day, let us remember that every individual deserves respect and protection, regardless of their migration status. The international community must step up its efforts to defend human rights and prevent history from tragically repeating itself.

The ODHR’s call is clear: “it is time to act collectively to ensure the safety and dignity of those fleeing war, poverty, and persecution. By protecting refugees today, we ensure the protection of all tomorrow.”