What We Should Be Doing About the Global Refugee Crisis

November 22, 2016

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“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage: the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.”

– António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.


Our Rights Aren’t Dependent on Where We Live

We believe that each and every person on this earth has an equal right to life, love and — of course — ice cream! And while we are tirelessly fighting for rights inside of the United States, we also want to turn an eye to an urgent situation that is happening on a global scale: the global refugee crisis.

Right now, we are seeing forced displacement at record levels, with millions of people being forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution. With issues like war and climate change affecting more and more communities across the globe, now more than ever, it seems that individual rights are very far from equal across the planet.

At Ben & Jerry’s we support global efforts to resettle those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution.


The Global Refugee Crisis: Facts & Figures

When Obama described the refugee crisis as “one of the most urgent tests of our time”, he wasn’t exaggerating. According to recent figures from the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), around 65.3 million people around the world are currently displaced by conflict and persecution.

That's nearly one in every 100 people on earth.

These figures are staggering in themselves, but when we consider that behind each individual number there’s a story - a person with hopes, dreams and aspirations just like our own - the sheer scale of the human suffering becomes clear.


The Situation in Syria

Soberingly, well over half of all refugees come from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, with an astonishing 4.9 million coming from the latter alone. Their plight was poignantly encapsulated by the heartbreaking story of Eida Karmi, which made headlines in October. The 115-year-old Syrian refugee fled her home and was carried for hundreds of miles to Turkey on the back of a family friend before making the dangerous sea journey to Greece.

The one wish she expressed was to be reunited with her family in Germany, who she hasn’t seen for five years. Like thousands of others, she’s now sleeping rough in the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos still chasing her dream of reuniting with her family.


A Lukewarm Welcome

The saddest thing? Eida is one of the lucky ones – as we know only too well, many don’t make it alive. For those who do, the welcome awaiting them is often far from warm. Those arriving by land find their route blocked by fences and closed borders, and huge numbers of people like Eida are funneled into dangerously overcrowded camps in which living conditions are truly appalling.

The sheer influx of people continues to strain resources and sour relations, contributing to a worrying rise in a societal narrative of hatred and fear in Europe and throughout the world. This is compounded by ignorant scaremongering from public figures and the mainstream media who – let’s face it – really ought to know better.

Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!


Make Ice Cream, Not War!

At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re not just about ice cream. We believe in a just and inclusive society, with compassion and tolerance for all. Hate and fear will divide us. It already is.

In our rapidly globalizing world—and one in which we must come together to solve some of the most immense challenges we’ve faced as a human race such as climate change—countries simply can’t afford to wall themselves in. They cannot afford to abandon those who are most in need. It's up to all of us to stand up for fairness and equality, and to showing solidarity with people whose lives have been torn apart by crisis and conflict.


The Route to Resettlement

The overwhelming majority of refugees flee to nearby countries. This means the likes of Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon are shouldering most of the weight, but these nations alone won’t solve this problem.

It’s time for the rest of us to step up to the mark! In the United States, Europe and beyond, the developed world has an obligation not only to work to end the violence that has led to the crises, but to increase the numbers of refugees we accept. 

Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!


So What Are We Doing?

Thankfully, there is hope on a global front! A number of organizations, governments and individuals have already rolled up their sleeves and jumped into the fray.

  • Angela Merkel has held firm on Germany’s open-door policy
  • Canada continues to set a great example with its progressive resettlement policy.
  • September’s UN Leaders Summit successfully secured huge increases in global humanitarian funding.
  • The IRC (International Rescue Committee) is working tirelessly on practical solutions, including improving asylum processing in Greece and accelerating relocation and family reunification transfers to other EU countries.


Build Relationships, Not Walls!

Finding a humanitarian solution to this problem is one of the most important issues we face today. Closing the door on people fleeing violence and persecution is not only morally wrong, but it plays into the hands of extremist propagandists and fuels more hatred and division.

The world needs to come together as one to address these issues if we’re to find a viable long-term solution. Empathy and compassion can triumph over hate and fear, but we all have a role to play in making that happen. We need to stand up and show our leaders that we stand with the millions of refugees around the world. Sign the petition and make your voice heard today!

Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!