Poorer countries are following the lead of Europe and Australia in tightening asylum policies, eroding protections for refugees on a global scale, according to a report on Tuesday. The British-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) think tank said measures by richer neighbours to limit refugee numbers have fostered similar policies in regions that have traditionally welcomed high numbers of refugees.
“We are seeing a worrying race to the bottom on refugee protection around the world,” the ODI’s Sara Pantuliano, author of the report, said in a statement. Examples include the refusal of Jordan to welcome about 70,000 Syrians stranded in the desert area of Berm and Kenya’s plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp and repatriate its largely Somali refugee population, the ODI said.
“If wealthy countries with strong economies are refusing to meet their obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, what incentive is there for poorer countries to do so?” said Pantuliano, ahead of a summit on refugees on Tuesday hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
“High-income countries must reverse this dangerous trajectory and instead take meaningful steps towards the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”