by Bono, New York Times
I'VE recently returned from the Middle East and East Africa, where I visited a number of refugee camps -- car parks of humanity. I went as an activist and as a European. Because Europeans have come to realize -- quite painfully in the past year or two -- that the mass exodus from collapsed countries like Syria is not just a Middle Eastern or African problem, it's a European problem. It's an American one, too. It affects us all.
My countryman Peter Sutherland, a senior United Nations official for international migration, has made clear that we're living through the worst crisis of forced displacement since World War II. In 2010, some 10,000 people worldwide fled their homes every day, on average. Which sounds like a lot -- until you consider that four years later, that number had quadrupled. And when people are driven out of their homes by violence, poverty and instability, they take themselves and their despair elsewhere. And "elsewhere" can be anywhere.
But with their despair some of them also have hope. It seems insane or naïve to speak of hope in this context, and I may be both of these things. But in most of the places where refugees live, hope has not left the building: hope to go home someday, hope to find work and a better life. I left Kenya, Jordan and Turkey feeling a little hopeful myself. For as hard as it is to truly imagine what life as a refugee is like, we have a chance to reimagine that reality -- and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it.