By Viveka Nand Jha
The current refugee crisis in Europe has been described as the biggest movement of people in the continent since Second World War. According to the figures compiled by the missing migrants project of the International organization for migrants, Europe has emerged as the world’s most dangerous destination for irregular migrants with the Mediterranean. 2701 people died in the first month of 2015, out of total global death of 3729. Almost 40% of the deaths were of people from the Africa. The refugee is a direct impact of western policies that resulted in a series of armed interventions led by the United States in the countries from where the refugees are fleeing. In past five-six years, Syria’s conflicts with west resulted into civil war. The UNHCR, United Nation Agency for Refugee says that just first year of wars and conflicts saw the displacement of 59.5 million. This roughly equals the population of Italy and the U.K. The major contributor to the global refugee crisis fuelled by western policies and armed interventions. The rise of the ISIS in Syria, as commentators have pointed out, is the fallout of the west-backed uprising against Syrian president Bashar-Al-Assad, which enabled it to grow and gain military experience and power. The Syrian conflicts entered its sixth year with at least 7.6 million Syrians estimated to have been displaced within their own country by the end of 2014 and four million living outside Syria, and one in every five displaced person is a Syrian. Syria’s GDP dropped by 20.6% in 2013 and by 2014 the economy was so broken that Syria’s Human development index had fallen drastically. Syrian Arab Republic’s HDI value for 2015 is 0.536— which put the country in the low human development category—positioning it at 149 out of 188 countries and territories. According to the Global Conflict Tracker produced by the US council on foreign relations, more than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war has begun.
MAJOR CAUSES OF THE MIGRATION
- Turmoil in West Asia
- Re-opening of frozen conflicts in Africa
- The economic crisis in western Balkans.
- Intensification of the war in Eastern Ukraine
- Most of the refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- 2,64,000 applications were received from asylum-seekers by 2014 and it is likely to increase
- 2,16,300 of those have been received by 28 European union members
- Initially, 40,000 was the number upon which EU agreed to take in but now it has been increased to 1, 60,000 people.
- 5 EU members, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy and the U.K share the bulk of the asylum seekers though the proposal is to share the burden.
- 1,68,000 applications received by the Russia Federation from people fleeing Ukraine plus 1,48,847 others are seeking legal stay in Russia
WHAT GERMANY, HUNGARY, AND BRITAIN HAD TO SAY
Germany’s chancellor Angela Markel has also been urging other countries of the EU to take in refugees and proposed a quota system under which each country would have to accommodate a certain number of refugees. EU countries have rejected this. It should be noted that Germany is an attractive destination for refugees because it has a strong economy and many refugee families have been there already. Besides Germany is one country that they know has a fair assessment and processing system.
Viktor Orban, the PM of Hungary, a country that has built a wire-wall with Serbia in order keep the refugees out has said that they do not want Muslim refugees in a country where all ethos is Christian.
Aylan Kurdi was a small Syrian child who died on a beach in Turkey while he was trying to reach Greece from Turkey along with his family. This episode pushed David Cameron, then PM of UK, to let Britain accept refugees. By changing his stand on refugee, he said that U.K will accept refugees “in 1000” but with two important riders. The first was that UK would accept refugees only from UNcontrolled. refugee camps outside Syria and second was that UK will start bombing on Syria. At the global level, the refugee crisis can be seen as direct fallout of the US foreign policy in West Asia, and no one can deny the fact across the globe that both the U.S and its E.U allies are responsible for this crisis It is not just the foreign policy but also their economic policies. The war in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia has created millions of refugees, and because of the reduction in government spendings, as the government didn’t have the sufficient capital and resources which leads to destroyed social infrastructure that has led to migrants. According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees and others, an estimate of 4.5-5 million Syrians are now either living in refugee camps or are displaced. Over 4 million have found refugee in five countries namely- Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. Still, 1.8 million await a decision on their asylum applications.
DEBATE WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Europe has reached its capacity/saturation point and cannot afford the additional economic burden of refugee. The main concerns of EU were that Outsiders do not respect local culture, customs, and law and resist learning the language. EU was not ready to take any kind of burden especially on public goods and services which might disrupt everything within their respective countries.
RESPONSE OF THOSE OUTSIDE EU
- Rich Saudi Arabia has not taken the responsibility to ease the refugee burden, unlike Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordon
- Though Russia has taken in a no. of people, the demand is for it to do more, since it is the cause of the Ukraine crisis.
- Though Australia and New Zealand have offered to take about 12,000 Syrians, Japan is reluctant to take any foreigners.
- The United States accused of being the main cause of the mess in West Asia has so far remained aloof.
- China the world’s most populous county and 2nd largest economy has remained largely uninvolved.
Once Mahatma Gandhi had said that you must not lose faith in humanity. “Humanity is an ocean if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” This proverb is appropriate for this crisis and all the countries must come together at least for the sake of humanity to solve this before it turns into a disaster. It should be seen as a global problem rather than country-specific. Indeed it requires lots of resources (man and money) for this purpose. There should be refugee crisis emergency funds, in which all the countries across the world can donate a certain amount to deal with this crisis. The United Nations security council, job of which primarily is to bring peace and stability to the world, have completely failed. It cannot escape from its responsibility and must take a strong and strict action to control the ISIS and global terrorism in order to maintain peace and security across the world. They should keep their interest aside.
Viveka Nand Jha, the author, is a First Year M.A. Public Policy student at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.
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