“Our leaders are sleepwalking,” that’s how Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, describes the reaction of world leaders to the refugee crisis.
More than 65 million people have been driven from their homes—which is more than any time since World War II. Among them are more than 21 million refugees from three countries ravaged by war —Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Shetty tells Yahoo Finance that September’s United Nations “Summit for Refugees and Migrants” ended in “abject failure” because leaders “missed an opportunity to make specific commitments to help end the suffering of refugees across the world.”
Days later, US president Barack Obama’s “Leaders’ Summit on Refugees” in New York did only slightly better, according to Shetty, but still fell far short of what is needed to address the global refugee crisis.
States attending Obama’s summit committed to increase funding by $4.5 billion. Fifty-one US companies also pledged to donate, invest, or raise more than $650 million in aid.
That total includes a $500 million donation from investor and philanthropist George Soros. Shetty points out that Soros’ individual donation is $200 million more than the country of China has donated to the refugee crisis.
“We can’t underestimate the importance of money to aid the crisis,” Shetty said, “but wealthy countries can’t just commit money and walk away.”
According to New World Health, China is the second wealthiest country in the world, when comparing total individual wealth. The United States ranks first, while Japan is third.
Amnesty International is asking these and other rich countries to host more refugees.
Currently, more than half of the 21 million refugees are being hosted by smaller, neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
According to the German newspaper, Die Welt, Germany took in about a million refugees in 2015. That’s more than the US has taken in—in the past decade.
Shetty says the popular belief that people don’t want refugees in their countries is not necessarily true. A recent Amnesty International survey of 27,000 people in 27 countries found that 4 in 5 people would welcome refugees into their countries and even consider taking them into their homes. Shetty says the results show how governments that are turning their backs on refugees are “badly out of touch with reality.”