Marking World Refugee Day, Eric Schwartz and Daniel Sullivan wrote this opinion piece for U.S. News & World Report.
On Dec. 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared that June 20 would be “celebrated” annually as World Refugee Day. For millions of people displaced by conflict and persecution globally, there is little to celebrate, but World Refugee Day does present an opportunity to bring attention to their plight, and to the possibility of solutions.
Indeed, if political leaders are responsible for stoking the communal anger and intolerance that cause such suffering, they also have the power to chart a different course. While we focus appropriately today on cases of stubborn resistance to respect for human rights, we should not ignore signs of positive action.
It is not hard to find examples of resistance to improving the plight of the displaced. The situation of the Muslim minority Rohingya population in Myanmar provides one of the most compelling cases. The Burmese authorities have denied citizenship to one million Rohingya and have turned a blind eye to security force abuses that may constitute crimes against humanity. Decades of persecution have caused another million Rohingya to flee the country.