On October 6 the United Nations head of refugee relief, Antonio Guterres, warned governments that continuing conflicts, notably in Afghanistan and Africa are creating a near-permanent refugee burden.
About 1.7 million Afghan refugees are still in Pakistan, another million in Iran while more are dispersed in other countries but about 5 million have returned voluntarily since 2002. The number of Somali refugees abroad rose from 440,000 to 678,000 by the end of 2009. Another 1.5 million Somalis were displaced inside the country.
Democracy, world-wide, is under strain in dealing with this problem. The present situation is extremely troubling. As The Guardian reports:
“…in the Netherlands Geert Wilders Freedom Party goes from strength to strength with his anti-Islam campaign, paralysing Dutch governance. In Austria, the extreme right leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, is running for Mayor … and, although likely to lose is expected to take 20% of the vote; in Hungary, the radical right wing Jobbik has gained a parliamentary foothold and is demanding permanent, guarded internment camp for Gypsies. In Italy the anti-immigration Northern League of Umberto Bossi is in government and is the country’s fastest growing Party. In Germany, interestingly, the extreme right has failed to make inroads but the political sensation of the summer was the best-seller by a former Berlin banker, Thilo Sarazzin in which the principal claim is that the country is digging its own grave by admitting waves of immigrants. But the greatest surprise of all is Sweden which has long seemed an oasis of openness, with the most generous welfare, asylum and immigration policies in Europe. But with about 100,000 immigrants entering the country (pop. 9 million) each year, the mood is changing – reflected in the relative success of Jimmie Akesson’s far right Sweden Democrats Party. In the high rise suburb of Almgarden one in three voted Sweden Democrats and in working class Malmo, the vast majority switched from the Social Democrats in this year’s election. The result led Jimmie Akesson to declare, “We’re in”. The trend is worrying but should not be overstated as overall, his Party received only 6% of the vote.”