Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Chances Are Not Good

Dealing With the Refugee Crisis

The "migrant crisis" confronting Europe hits the headlines every day at the moment.  This will not last, of course, because Western grief, outrage, and angst, mixed with guilt and pity can only be sustained for so long.  Soon other crises d'jour will demand air time.

There is no simple solution at hand to this crisis.  Like most issues of this kind there can only be ameliorating moves that lessen the problem.  Human suffering will continue to exist around the globe; people will yearn for better lives and living conditions.  Migration has taken place since time immemorial.  After, Abraham and his family were migrants.  The best Western nations can hope to do is lessen the problem.

But having a clear understanding of the problems and their causes helps.  Only then will measures to manage the crisis come more readily to hand.  Here are some considerations which we believe ought to bear upon how this crisis is handled.

Firstly, we must face up to the cause of the crises.
  These crises have been caused by civil wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.  People whose existence and lives have been shattered are seeking refuge and the opportunity to begin again.  In this particular case, however, the wars have been internecine Islamic wars.  It is Moslem against Moslem.  Now that critical fact does not remove non-Moslem responsibility to help in appropriate ways.  But it does mean that the West ought to face up to this reality front and centre and incessantly challenge the surrounding Islamic nations meet their due responsibilities--equally front and centre.

This is far from the case.  Most Islamic states have turned deaf ears and blind eyes to the plight of their fellow religionists.

Not welcome?

This comes as part of wider obstacles facing Syrians, who are required to obtain rarely granted visas to enter almost all Arab countries.  Without a visa, Syrians are not currently allowed to enter Arab countries except for Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen.  The relative wealth and proximity to Syria of the states has led many - in both social and as well as traditional media - to question whether these states have more of a duty than Europe towards Syrians suffering from over four years of conflict and the emergence of jihadist groups in the country. [BBC,  Migrant crisis: Why Syrians do not flee to Gulf states]

Islam is a religion which teaches the brotherhood of all Islamic believers.  Therefore, since this refugee crisis has been caused by internecine Islamic fighting, the primary responsibility to take care of the refugees should be the surrounding Islamic nation states: Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Turkey,  the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia.  Their borders should be open and they should be doing all they can to welcome, accept, and resettle their Islamic brothers and sisters.  The West ought to be placing relentless pressure upon these states to follow the teachings of their religion.  It is the least they can do in light of the fact that the violence has also been a product of their religion, and that many of these states have been actively involved funding and encouraging and supporting the internecine wars.

The pressure upon the Islamic states must be maintained, loudly and resolutely.  They ought to be shamed into acting. 

Secondly, the West ought to be clear--and it ought to make clear--that there is a difference between economic refugees and political refugees.  Granted that many of the current wave of refugees coming from the Middle East are political and war refugees, whose suffering has been caused by war.  But not all--by a long stretch.  Many are economic refugees.  One of the evidences of this is the number of "refugees" who are isolated young men.  Those who arrive without wives and children deserve special scrutiny in this regard.  

Further, the West ought to make clear that it is not in the business of accepting economic refugees.  Normal immigration rules and channels apply.  Therefore, when folk turn up in boats on the shore, they must be put into refugee centres where they can be processed and their provenance along with their claim to be political refugees can be examined and verified.  Only then ought they be allowed to enter as refugees.  Those not able to establish their bona fides should be classified as economic migrants and assessed according to the rules, regulations and stipulations of the respective country's immigration policy.  If they do not meet the criteria, they could be given leave to apply to other countries.  But if all else fails they must be repatriated to their country of origin.

Thirdly, those responsible for facilitating the illicit passage of the would-be migrants should always be arrested and suffer severe criminal penalties.  Many of these vultures will have murderous blood on their hands.  Moreover, every migrant boat, regardless of size, shape or class, must be seized and scuttled in the Med.

Finally, the Med should be policed by the combined navies of the European nations.

One other factor needs to be borne in mind.  For refugees--genuine refugees--to be integrated successfully into a host nation, the work really begins when they arrive.  In most cases, it takes several years to integrate successfully.  Languages needs to be learnt, local customs and culture assimilated, friendships and continuing pastoral care from community groups and volunteer organisations are all part of the mix.  Otherwise the refugees risk ending up in ghettos, as is now occurring throughout Europe.  Helping refugees to assimilate successfully is a long and costly business.  That is not to say it ought not be done.  Rather, it is to stress that granting a refugee family access is the easy part: the real work starts as soon as they exit the refugee processing centre.

Thankfully New Zealand has finally come to understand this, and the successful assimilation of genuine refugees in this country has been the result of many, many hands at work--charitable and voluntary hands--over a number of years, which is as it ought to be.

What are the chances that Europe will put together such a coherent, integrated strategy?  None.  Europe itself in many ways resembles a failed state.  It is paralysed and unable to set a coherent, meaningful strategy.  Europe is a make-believe utopian experiment, crumbling, indecisive, and inept in the face of the crisis.  

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