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Nearly 60 million refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled their homes in 2014, predominately from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The global response to assisting this vulnerable group has been wholly incommensurate with the need given the profound health hazards faced by forced migrants at each stage of their journey. The majority of forced migrants are housed in lower-income countries that do not have the infrastructure to assist the significant numbers of individuals who are crossing their borders and the humanitarian organizations who seek to assist in the response are grossly underfunded and under-resourced.

Countries have varying responsibilities to protect different classes of forced migrants based in international law, however there are significant gaps in existing agreements, leaving many individuals without protection or hope of assistance. There is a need to strengthen existing international agreements to ensure that all classes of forced migrants are entitled to protection and to ensure the enforceability of existing agreements where governments refuse to honor their existing obligations.

Publication Citation

314(20) JAMA 2125-26 (2015)