During the summer of 2015, the international community has become increasingly concerned with the causes behind the mass exodus of people from their homes—the refugees and migrants.
It has been all too easy to become accustomed to the image of the refugee: the displaced in Europe after World War II, internally displaced Chinese during the Chinese civil war, the struggle of Jews to enter Palestine prior to the creation of Israel followed by the flight of the Palestinians, the Hungarians in 1956, and the boat people from Vietnam—the refugees who made the front pages of the world press and all the others too often forgotten. The sum of human misery since the Second World War has been so heavy and so constant as to have a numbing effect.
However, the summer of 2015 has brought images of refugees and migrants drowning at sea or trying to make their way under barbed wire, with the most recent photos of some 70 persons who died in a closed truck in Austria near the Hungarian border.
Until now, governments within the UN system have gone on the assumption that security and peacekeeping are political matters to be kept as separate as possible from emergency humanitarian efforts. Since, in nearly all the cases that have led to massive departures, the UN has failed in its attempts at conflict resolution, humanitarian aid did what it could to bind up some of the wounds. Both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations working on direct relief avoided political considerations as much as possible. For public political analysis leads to controversy, to charges of being one-sided, and to misunderstanding the historic complexities of the situation.