Guinea-Bissau is positioned on the west coast of Africa, south of Senegal. In recent years, the total number of asylum applicants from Guinea-Bissau has increased significantly. Among the 1,467 people fleeing persecution, 99 percent of applicants are being rejected from European asylum. To understand why these people are fleeing and why no one will take them in, here are 10 facts about Guinea-Bissau refugees.
- The country of Guinea-Bissau has been plagued with corruption and drug trafficking for decades. It is involved with the South American cartels, specifically those involving cocaine. Guinea-Bissau is vulnerable to trafficking. A number of the drugs coming into Guinea-Bissau are becoming more difficult to track because drugs are often brought in by sea and not by plane. The police do not have the capabilities to intercept boats.
- The total influx of refugees worldwide has made it difficult for wealthy European countries to take in any more people. There are simply not enough resources for every application for asylum to be granted. Applications are not being put through because the capacity has been reached in prominent European nations.
- The anti-immigrant sentiment that some European countries possess is directed mainly at those from Africa and Asia. Many applications are being rejected because of this prejudice, making it more difficult for African refugees to be accepted into their new country. Studies show that applicants with foreign-sounding names are less likely to get a job.
- Studies show that in recent years the number of recognized refugees from Guinea-Bissau has decreased dramatically. In contrast, the number of rejected refugees has increased substantially since 2010.
- There is little political stability in the country. Guinea-Bissau has a record of military coups (the most recent in 2012), making it difficult for one leader to meet a full term. There were four changes in the position of prime minister in just over a year.
- The probability of dying between ages 15 and 60 is 31 percent for males and 24 percent for females.
- Life expectancy for both men and women is well below the African average: 57 for males, 60 for females.
- Just over 20 percent of the population falls below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption.
- Improper sanitation and waste treatment are serious public health challenges. A large amount of the population is malnourished. Malaria is widespread and entails high mortality rates. A large number of health concerns stem from cholera, schistosomiasis, filariasis and leprosy.
- Guinea-Bissau is now one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 178 out of 188 in the U.N.’s human development index. This is a measure of average achievement in valuable dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.
These 10 facts about Guinea-Bissau refugees show that there are many considerable issues surrounding the people of Guinea-Bissau, making their case for asylum compelling. However, many European countries are unable to integrate them into their culture. This refusal by affluent European countries leaves thousands of refugees with nowhere to go and their applications for asylum rejected. The lives of these refugees are valuable, yet they have not been treated as such. Many are stuck in their home country without adequate living conditions.
However, improvements have been made. Regarding health and sanitation, The World Health Organization has seen a drop in malnutrition since 2010 and a significant decrease in infant mortality in the last decade. Changes are being made, and, slowly but surely, the lives of people in Guinea-Bissau are improving. As long as affluent countries such as the United States keep giving, Guinea-Bissau will see less emigration and a higher ranking in the U.N.’s human development index.
– Lucy Voegeli