The global refugee problem
Michael and his guests discuss the world's refugee problem, what should, and what can be done about it.
Forty years ago, the North Vietnamese took Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. The Vietnam War was over, and the North and the South were united as one country. But the waves of people fleeing the country's Communist regime were just beginning.
Over the next five years or so, about a million would take to rickety, overcrowded boats listing about in the South China Sea, searching for refuge. It's estimated that about half of the so-called Vietnamese boat people died before reaching a safe haven. But upwards of 60,000 Vietnamese found new homes in Canada, with the assistance of the government and private sponsors in the late 1970s. Those Vietnamese refugees have since woven themselves into the fabric of Canadian life as doctors, professionals, tradespeople, business owners, parents and citizens.
This time, they're fleeing repressive regimes and strife-torn, impoverished countries like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Mali and Somalia.
According the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, there are more than 50 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world. The situation is worst in Syria, where eight million are internally displaced and nearly four million more have crossed the border and now languish in camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
The scope of the global refugee problem seems staggering and intractable. And it seems that the world has no idea what to do about it, except to say, don't expect us to take you in.
Jennifer Hyndman is the Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, and she's the co-author of a forthcoming book about the protracted displacement of refugees.
Bob Rae is a former premier of Ontario, and former Member of Parliament and foreign affairs critic for the federal Liberals. He's also a former chairman of the NGO, Forum of Federations. Today, he works in aboriginal and human rights law.