The global surge in refugees has left most of the financial burden to developing countries in volatile regions. According to the UNHCR, low and middle income countries play the greatest role in sheltering the world's displaced. Developing countries in the global south have been looking into cooperating and learning from best practises as a result of the abandonment by the developed countries.
The neglect leaves developing countries with a pressing need to create more awareness and generate attention towards the situation at hand.
The existing global refugee crises affecting several countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have resulted in a mass exodus within and beyond these regions.
Millions of refugees from war-torn or violence stricken countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala seek refuge in neighbouring countries with hopes to go on to North America and Europe. However, as a result of global immigration policies, bordering countries in these volatile regions such as Turkey, Mexico, Jordan, Lebanon, Ethiopia and Uganda have transitioned from refugee transit points to long-term homes.
Turkey and Mexico are case in point with regards to their unique position.
Both countries are surrounded by fragile or failed states in their regions. This results in refugees fleeing violence. Central Americans escaping cartels, gang violence, gender-based violence, and poverty find safety in Mexico. On the other hand, Middle Eastern and African refugees escaping civil wars, violence, and poverty find safety in Turkey,
Turkey and Mexico both implement innovative refugee policies. This is partly as a result of the inevitable influx of refugees given the volatile regions they are situated in.
The two countries neighbours (US, Canada, Europe) impose strict immigration policies and Turkey and Mexico are faced with neighbours that are rather unwelcoming, and do not have an open door policy.
In fact, the US and Europe have outsourced the refugee problem to Mexico and Turkey by offering compensation. As a result, asylum seekers are held up in bordering cities and in some cases children find themselves as orphans.
As refugee safe havens, Turkey and Mexico are facing a multitude of financial and social burdens. Hosting over 3 million Syrian refugees Turkey provided the largest volume of humanitarian aid with $6 billion in 2016, which largely goes towards Syrian refugees
On the other hand, approximately 400,000 Central American refugees are crossing the border into Mexico each year. Both countries are struggling to integrate refugees into their respective societies.
There are limited resources for a growing number of refugees and ever increasing domestic demands regarding employment. More importantly, children, particularly those who are unaccompanied, pose the biggest challenge of becoming a lost generation.
Both Turkey and Mexico, countries at geographic crossroads, have implemented policies
alleviating the refugee and migration crisis. Although the dynamics behind the refugee crisis pose significant challenges to Turkey and Mexico there is potential for partnership and cooperation.
US immigration policies under the Obama and Trump administrations and rising xenophobia in Europe elicit the need to draw parallels between crises taking place in different parts of the world.
Both Mexico and Turkey are facing increased pressures to enforce their borders. The US has supported Mexico's Southern Border Program and employed further migrant deterrent strategies to cut back on the number of refugees from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador).
On the other hand, increased demands from the EU and pressing security concerns led Turkey to take additional measures. Consequently, Turkey completed the first phase of a wall across its Syrian border. Erecting more barriers and putting pressure on host countries may seem like a short-term solution for the US and European countries but these policies will not alleviate the humanitarian crisis. If anything, they create mass prisons out of these war zones.
The humanitarian crises will deepen without eliminating the root motivating cause for people seeking refuge in other countries.
In the face of such dire humanitarian conditions middle income countries and regional powers, such as Turkey and Mexico, shoulder the weight. These countries run the risk of becoming buffer zones or even, dumping grounds.
Europe is sending back refugees to Turkey and the US to Mexico without offering any satisfactory assistance. Under the MIKTA Initiative Turkey and Mexico aim to develop further cooperation in tackling global issues including the refugee crisis. Yet, a common strategic planning to tackle the global refugee crisis does not exist at the moment. Mexico and Turkey should increase cooperation by facilitating know-how in providing better refugee settlements and finding a set of best practises in their humanitarian work.
Both countries can benefit from integrating public-private partnerships in their efforts. In addition, Turkey was the host of the first World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 and Mexico co-hosted numerous humanitarian assistance workshops, but they have not joined efforts in connecting the Central American and Middle Eastern/African refugee crises.
Such collaborative efforts can help create platforms to raise awareness and more importantly offer applicable strategies to integrate refugees much efficiently into these countries, which are likely to become their permanent homes. In doing so, Mexico and Turkey can propose a unique model of deploying humanitarian aid, capacity building and refugee integration. Cooperation between these two former transit states can also lead to increased pressure in sharing the responsibility for human life before these former transit nations exhaust their capacity.
Caught between their affluent and refugee producing neighbours Turkey and Mexico share more than their generosity; they share a story the rest of the world ought to hear. These stories are the stories of refugees fleeing violence and poverty.