All over the world, people are on the move. Over 79.5 million people are currently forcibly displaced from their homes. In 2018 alone, there were 28 million new internal displacements across 148 countries and territories. Eighty percent of the world’s displaced remain in neighboring countries in the global south. They have no prospective of either going home or resettling in a third country.
The causes of forced migration are complex and interwoven. Conflict, often combined with other factors such as mega-development projects, weakened governance, and the impacts of a changing climate, can contribute to forcing people to flee.
Too often the default response to conflict is to support or send military operations. However, as local organizations and communities point out, foreign military intervention actually exacerbates conflict and division, rather than contributing to long-lasting peace.
Instead, MCC partners and local communities across the globe engage in peacebuilding to address some of the complex reasons why people are forced to leave their home. They also work to ensure that people can live well when they arrive in a new place. Peacebuilding can prevent, reduce or stop violence, improve relationships between people and those with authority and power. Additionally, local initiatives are essential to create lasting peace and provide an alternative to forced migration.
Our government has an important role to play in addressing the reasons people are forced to leave home in the first place. Conflict, climate crisis, and economic factors, including the involvement of Canadian companies, are all part of the push factors that cause people to flee. This means we have an opportunity to encourage our government to implement policies that protect all from forced displacement. One way of doing that is through an increase in support for grassroots peacebuilding globally, along with asking the government to ensure that Canada's development and trade policies do not hinder peacebuilding work.
Did you know that Canada only gives 0.28% of its Gross National Income (GNI) toward Official Development Assistance (ODA)? This is only a third of the globally agreed upon 0.7% benchmark. Moreover, within this small pot, support for peacebuilding only accounts for approximately 5-10% annually. In contrast, Canada’s military spending in 2018 was almost five times the total spent on ODA.
MCC partners continually ask us to advocate here in Canada so that migration can be a choice, not a last resort. No one should be forced to flee their home.