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The Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum e.V, the.Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict IFHV and medico international with financial support of the Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung NRW and Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung realized a series of lectures during the winter semester 2021/2022 in English under the title “70 years of Geneva Convention – a reason to celebrate?”
Listen to our international experts discussing international refugee protection:
We are observing an erosion of the rights of refugees during their flight as well as in host countries for many years. Because of constant tightening laws, refugees are not able to claim their rights according to the Geneva Convention. The political signals are very clear: refugees are seen as a political problem, their flight to the EU shall be made nearly impossible and even for those who have made it into the EU the living conditions are made as miserable as possible to prevent more refugees from coming to Germany and the EU. They have to wait under inhumane conditions until a decision is made on their asylum applications and fear to be deported any time. However, the majority of refugees does not even reach the inner EU – either they are stopped or illegally pushed back at the sea where they risk their lives or they are detained in refugee camps at the external frontiers of the EU systematically violating their basic rights. At the same time, the EU tries to make deals with authoritarian regimes like Turkey or Libya and pays billions of Euros to keep refugees away. The EU is therefore complicit in systematic human rights violations which in the case of Libya, for example, extend to torture and forced disappearances.
In the year 1950 the UNHCR was founded to deal with refugees of World War II. Today, its mission is to protect refugees worldwide and to organize humanitarian aid. Being the biggest humanitarian organization worldwide, UNHCR promotes durable solutions regarding refugees based on three strategies: resettlement, integration and voluntary return. In Europe, the focus of UNHCR lies on legal protection for asylum seekers and recognized refugees.
In 1951, the Geneva Refugee Convention came into force being a binding instrument of humanitarian international law obliging host states to provision, allocation and integration of refugees. In 2021, the convention celebrates its 70th anniversary – at a time where so many refugees are on the run as never before since World War II. UNHCR documented 82,4 million persons on the run.
We used both anniversaries as an opportunity to present the refugee work of the UNHCR, to give historical background of its work and to discuss the status quo of international refugee protection and future challenges.
We discussed with, among others:
- Phil Orchard, University of Wollongong, Australia
- Nikolas Feith Tan, Danish Institute for Human Rights
- Dulo Nyaoro, Moy University Kenya
- Dr. Ranabir Samaddar, Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies Calcutta Research Group, India
- Dr. Oroub El-Abed, Center for Palestine Studies, SOAS University of London
- Jeff Crisp, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
- Marie von Manteuffel, Medecins sans frontières
- Shirin Tinnesand, Stand by Lesvos
- Maximilian Pichl, University of Frankfurt/Main
- Simone Schlindwein, journalist
- Thomas Gebauer, foundation medico international