The ethical dilemma of countries having borders whilst the world has millions of refugees and migrants

Everyone says that they care about the millions of protesters in Hong Kong. There’s a Stand With Hong Kong website. Everyone also says they care about the millions of displaced people worldwide who are refugees who are fleeing war, persecution or a violation of their human rights.

So how can it be that christian countries should accept refugees, if those very same countries, have borders? To answer that, we have to answer why countries have borders.

Why do countries have borders?

For a petition asking the UK to close all the borders until ISIS is defeated, the government responded by saying “However we will continue to operate our borders securely and to enforce our immigration law. This includes carrying out 100% checks on arriving passengers in order to identify any criminal, security or immigration concerns.”

I can think of three reasons why countries have borders.

  • To ensure that the countries resources are not overstretched or exhausted
  • To keep dangerous people out the country
  • To faciliate trade deals

How many refugees are there?

There were 70.8 million refugees in 2018.

New figures released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) brings a few painful truths to light: that there are now more refugees than ever.

That’s 71 million forcibly displaced people world wide – 37,000 people every single day – with 138,000 estimated to be children unaccompanied by adults with the report adding that the actual figure could be significantly higher.

According to the data the amount of people newly displaced due to conflict or persecution has increased by around 13.6 million. Additionally, 67 per cent of refugees come from just five countries: Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia, each ravaged by internal conflict.

For the fifth consecutive year Turkey hosts by far the largest number of refugees – standing at 3.7 million and growing, followed by Pakistan at 1.4 million. The UK on the other hand doesn’t even break the top five.

The third largest recipient of refugees – and over 70 per cent of Syrian refugees – is Lebanon, and the country is struggling to cope with the demands of such an increase in population numbers.

By contrast it was also reported by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in February that 2018 saw a drop in the amounts of illegal EU border crossings which would seem to have plummeted by more than 1.5 million since 2015 and additionally its lowest levels since 2013.

Are governments doing too much or too little to settle refugees?

If the government allowed all refugees and everyone from a shithole country to come here, there would be no place to house and support them, and the country’s infrastructure would find it hard to cope. But it doesn’t matter how many refugees they take in, they are always accused of not doing enough. The EU wants its member states to accept quotas so each EU country will have to accept a certain amount of refugees specified by the EU. Some countries are rejecting refugee quotas. Not only that, not all the people trying to come here are refugees, some are economic migrants who aim to go to the country with the most generous welfare state.

In 2015 there was 1.2million asylum applications, and the UK accepted 13,000 of them. (source) It is very sad that not everyone gets to become a citizen of the country they choose. Some people even believe that no person should be “illegal” and that countries should have no borders at all.

Asking a free christian country why they’re not accepting more migrants, is like asking a millionaire why he isn’t donating money to individuals if they have so much surplus money. They feel that they do what they can to help as many people as possible, and that they cannot help any more people than they are currently helping. Is that a mean or cruel policy? Maybe. But when the people who need help is so many, you can’t help everyone.

Western governments have helped out third world countries

I can think of two ways that western governments have helped out third world countries.

  • Wiping out their debts with the Jubilee Debt Campaign
  • Giving them millions in aid money


  • Right now, over 70.8 million individuals have been forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. This is a record high, and is roughly equivalent to the entire UK population being forced to flee their homes.
  • 1 in every 113 people around the world is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
  • The rate of new displacement remains very high: one person becomes displaced every 3 seconds. That’s 20 people forced from their homes, every minute – or 28,300 every day.
  • Source:

Even though we all get sad sometimes (or all the time), we have to learn to appreciate what we have. Countries do what they can do to help those worse off in other countries all the time, and we have to be thankful for the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which formed the basis for the human rights laws us Brits enjoy as part of the Human Rights Act, and around the world.

The world can be a cruel place, no matter who you are. So spare some thoughts for yourself, those around you, the refugees, migrants and economic migrants. People want to escape poverty and persecution. Peace out!

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