25.11.2021, 13:01 - Views: 606


Zohra Aliyeva
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Jamila Hashimova
Azerbaijan Academy of Arts

Abstract: The article discusses the highly complicated problem of refugees in the contemporary world. The authors point out that, every year, the refugee problem is acquiring a new negative impetus related to rising poverty, large-scale unemployment, population growth, political instability, and much more. The main causes of the refugee flow are the growing number of military conflicts in the Middle East and African countries. In our opinion, the problem additionally lies in the legal aspect of the recognition of refugees in the European Union and the policies pursued by the European states.
The article also considers one of the key problems in the study of refugee issues: how to distinguish refugees from economic migrants. Part of the article is devoted to the solution to the problem of refugees in Azerbaijan in the post-conflict period.
Keywords: refugees, migrants, military conflicts, political instability, modern world.

Their only fault was that they were born and lived.
E. M. Remarque

An acient Arab proverb refers to the plight of the immigrant in a foreign country: “A stranger is blind, even if he has eyes.”
The Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad widely elucidate the refugee problem, asserting: “If (Muhammad) any of the polytheists whom the believers are ordered to fight against, will ask you for a safe haven to hear your call, then protect him from danger and give him shelter and the opportunity to listen to the Word of Allah. If he believes in Islam, he will become one of you - believers, and if he does not believe, then bring him to a safe place (The Qur’an 2013). This command – to provide security to one asking for shelter – is given so that the person who knows nothing about Islam, and wants to know, may hear the Word of God. The prophet Mohammed himself was a refugee and knew how bitter bread is for those living in a foreign land. The same is true for Christianity. The family of Jesus escaped to a foreign land. Jesus himself experienced exile many times.
It seemed that the times of obscurantism and the laws of the jungle were gone, and a fragile peace reigned on the planet. After the destruction of the Nazi regime, specific legal instruments appeared to regulate world laws.
In 1946, a special organization for refugees was created: the International Refugee Organization. On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. Among other things, it spoke about the right to asylum.
Later, in 1951, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted in Geneva. The Convention defined the concept of “refugee” and established the general grounds on which refugee status is granted. Status is what it is, but can international institutions protect people? The events of the last war in Azerbaijan have shown how helpless law can be. Laws are declared, and that’s all...The first Karabakh war (1992-1994) brought approximately a million Azerbaijani refugees into Azerbaijan; there was minimal assistance regarding the plight of these people on the part of the world community. We can say that we were left alone with our problem. Let us emphasize that, to this day, Russia continues to assert its dominance over the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Russia is trying to use its mediation mission in conflicts in the South Caucasus, including the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, to protect its own geopolitical, geo-economic, and other interests.
The war that began with the occupation of Azerbaijani territories almost 30 years ago has led to the occupation of up to 20% of the country’s territory.
Let us recall what refugee status means under international law. The definition of “refugee” is given in Article 1 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (amended by Article 1 of the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees): a refugee is any person who “due to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (Convention relating to the Status of Refugees). The legal protection of refugees is referred to in several international documents relating to “refugee status”; refugees are assisted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
On July 28, 1951, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was signed in Geneva. As Goodwin-Gill notes, the 1951 Convention is a milestone in forming and developing an international refugee rights protection system (Goodwin-Gill 1997). Suppose human rights violations are the main causes of mass exoduses. In that case, the solution to the problem may lie in constant monitoring of the course of events by the authorities of the UN human rights system, the international community’s condemnation of violations, and the appointment of special researchers to study specific situations and make recommendations. Suppose violent conflicts are the cause of refugee flows. In that case, solutions can be found by promoting mediation as a means of resolving conflicts and adhering to the provisions of humanitarian law.
A refugee who has reached the camp can be said to be a person who has undergone a number of serious human rights violations. In many cases, the very fact that a person was forced to leave their home implies a violation of several rights, namely, the right to security and the right to freedom to choose one’s place of residence. Frequently, factors leading to displacement, such as discrimination, armed conflict, other forms of manifestation of general violence etc., lead to human rights violations. Before our eyes, refugees from Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, who cross the border of neighboring countries, face arbitrary action of nationalist citizens and once again become victims. There are more than a few such cases, and they probably need to be somehow defined by other laws.
The arrival of refugees in camps and their placement there should lead to an improvement in the situation of these people compared with what they were able to escape from. The camp should become a guarantor of certain security against the threat of further human rights violations. It is also necessary to provide camp conditions that meet the most basic human needs for food, water, shelter, care, and compassion (especially important for children). However, the degree to which a camp environment is conducive to human rights will depend on many factors. Such factors include, for example:
• The circumstances in which refugees left their homes: if, for example, the movement of people occurs hastily and not in an organized manner, then people cannot take any of their belongings with them. They most likely have no food supplies, no tools, no change of clothes, no blankets, and no money with them. In these circumstances, the most versatile assistance will be required to ensure that those living in the camp have at least a minimum standard of living.
• The conditions in which the camp was set up: for example, was it set up according to a preliminary detailed plan of action, or was it formed “spontaneously” as an increasing number of refugees arrived. A planned camp is usually better equipped to meet the diverse needs of displaced persons.
• The location of the camp: this factor is closely related to the previous one. The location would be considered ideal if it is located at a sufficient distance from the area of hostilities and other sources of displacement risks, and provides refugees with an opportunity to escape these dangers; the location should be at such a distance that refugees can safely and without any harm to their health reach it with the available vehicles; there should be unhindered access to food and water; the camp should be within an easy reach of relief organizations, in a location suitable for setting up tents and other temporary shelters; it should be protected from adverse weather conditions, including possible floods and strong winds; etc. For example, when a camp is inside a conflict zone, refu gees may be targeted for attack both inside and outside the camp while searching for food or water.
• Camp management/control: this factor is of paramount importance in terms of respecting the rights of its inhabitants. When the camp is on the other side of the border of refugees’ country of origin, they should be more secure than in their homeland, protected from the dangers they have to face. However, it is important to fully understand the quality of the human rights activities that the authorities (especially the police and the military) of the country of asylum have to offer. When the camp remains within the country of origin of the displaced, it is important to assess the nature of the protection offered by the authorities in that country, who may have been responsible for the initial escape of the refugees. If the camp is run by international organizations, such as the UNHCR, much will depend on the funds that these organizations have at their disposal and on the extent to which the local authorities respect their mandate and the assistance offered. It is almost impossible to describe in a few pages all the physical, emotional, and psychological stress to which refugees in the camps are subjected. In most refugee camps, the lives of these people come to a standstill during their stay. With no idea how long they will remain there, people have no way to make plan for the future. Refugees only in sporadic cases manage to improve in their financial situation: they have to struggle to secure a living wage for themselves. Although marriages are often concluded, and children are born, in the camp, the camp residents can hardly feel any progress is being made in their lives. Camps tend to be extremely overcrowded. Other causes of tension and frustration exacerbate the associated stress. The greatest test is the marriage bond. Community relations between people who left their homes together can be disrupted.
Children often have minimal access to education. It often happens that adolescents do not have the opportunity to receive secondary, professional, or further education. Mass unemployment is common among adults, who therefore have to rely entirely on humanitarian aid.
Central to the concept of refugee protection and international refugee law is the principle of non-refoulement. Article 33, paragraph 1, of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, prohibits States Parties in any way from expelling or forcibly returning (“refouler”) refugees to the border of a country where their life or freedom is threatened due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or sharing of political opinion (Executive Committee… 1985). The Guidelines on Internal Displacement, a document presented in 1998 by the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons to the Human Rights Committee, defines internally displaced persons as: “persons or groups of persons who have been forced, or are forced to leave their homes or places of usual residence, in particular as a result of or to avoid the consequences of armed conflict, widespread violence, human rights violations, natural or human-induced disasters, and which did not cross internationally rec¬ognized borders” (CCPR General Comment… 1986). Like all other persons, dis¬placed persons enjoy internationally recognized human rights and are not subject to the specialized protection of international refugee law since they do not cross international borders. The fact that they have been forced to leave their homes puts internally displaced persons in a vulnerable position in terms of human rights violations. Therefore, need additional protection beyond that provided to other populations. Internally displaced persons living in camps are entitled to the same basic minimum standards of treatment as refugees in camps. It is generally envis¬aged that, within the framework of internal displacement, the following human rights will be respected:
the right to adequate food;
to shelter and adequate housing conditions;
to medical assistance;
to life and personal integrity;
to work and an proper salary;
freedom of movement and choice of residence;
the right to preserve family unity;
the right to education;
the right of freedom of thought.

As the experience of recent decades has shown, the international community and individual states should constantly work to solve the problems of refugees and be ready to act in emergency. In both cases, the most effective way to respond in routine work and emergencies is a coordinated and system-wide approach.
In addition to monitoring and protecting specific human rights, human rights organizations should also focus on the overall situation of refugees and internally displaced persons living in camps and whether their human dignity is respected. Many displaced people suffer not only by individual violations of their rights but also by the general environment, in which they may feel that their humanity is not being respected. Displacement can be very traumatic – human rights organizations must adhere to this overview of the situation of displaced persons in camps in their work, and make every effort to prevent a situation where the fundamental principles of humane treatment and respect for the human dignity of displaced persons are not respected. At the same time, the world community must determine the most effective ways to prevent new flows of refugees. These ways include studying the root causes of these phenomena and adopting measures to improve the situation.
We must acknowledge another vital fact: the contemporary refugee problem’s sheer significance and complexity cannot be based solely on a narrow un
derstanding of the international protection system. And the practice of recent decades has illustrated this gradual expansion of the approach. Let us conclude with the words of the great Nizami Ganjavi: “It is better to live a beggarly life in your homeland than to reign in a foreign land...”

CCPR General Comment No. 15: The Position of Aliens Under the Covenant. Adopted at the Twenty-seventh session of the Human Rights Committee, on 11 April 1986. available at: www.refworld.org/docid/45139acfc.html (accessed 5 June 2021).
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees Adopted on 28 July 1951 by the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons convened under General Assembly resolution 429 (V) of 14 December 1950 Entry into force: 22 April 1954, in accordance with article 43 available at: www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.23_convention%20refugees.pdf (accessed 5 June 2021).
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, Voluntary Repatriation No. 40 (XXXVI) – 1985, available at: www.refworld.org/docid/3ae68c9518.html (accessed 5 June 2021).
Goodwin-Gill, G.S. 1997. Refugee status in international law. Moscow, UNITY (in Russian).
The Qur’an. 2013 (translated by E. Kuliev), sura 9, ayat 6 (in Russian).

Sofia • 2021
Prof. Marin Drinov Publishing House of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences