It takes a lot to uproot oneself (and family), arrange travel via a trafficker, step onto a boat with a few possessions—and no guarantees.
They are called migrants or refugees—or both. Whichever term comes to mind, they are all people, many looking to improve their lot in life. But most, experts say, are running from instability and violence. Among them are people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
According to the United Nations, the recent wave of migrants represents the largest dislocation of people since the Second World War. The estimated number of migrants in Europe runs in the hundreds of thousands, up to over a million registered asylum seekers.
Thus, the term “migrant crisis,” which is useful shorthand, but doesn’t allow for the scale and scope of human suffering involved.
As Europe struggles to cope with the influx (via the sea from Turkey or Libya into Greece or Italy, for the most part), America is bracing for the expected spillover.
Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis
Bono – The New York Times
Europeans have come to realize — quite painfully in the past year or two — that the mass exodus from collapsed countries like Syria is not just a Middle Eastern or African problem, it’s a European problem. It’s an American one, too. It affects us all….
…[S]ome Western governments have been cutting overseas aid to spend money instead on asylum-seekers within their borders. But it is less expensive to invest in stability than to confront instability…. Because chaos, as we know all too well, is contagious.
What we don’t want and can’t afford is to have important countries in the Sahel, the band of countries just south of the Sahara, going the same way as Syria.
If Nigeria, a country many times larger than Syria, were to fracture as a result of groups like Boko Haram, we are going to wish we had been thinking bigger before the storm.
Misery on the March: EU Mitigates Migration Crisis, but War Drives It
Pittsburgh-Post Gazette – The Editorial Board
It is also difficult to sort out the difference between refugees, truly in danger at home, and economic migrants, looking for a better life in richer Europe. The EU worked out a complicated procedure by which true refugees are accepted in EU states in return for economic migrants who are repatriated to Turkey, marked to return to their countries of origin by the Turks.
It appears that the actual agreed-upon procedure is working. The returnees, presumably, are carrying the message back to those considering the risky sea journey that it isn’t worth the money or the danger to their lives…. It may seem hard to deny a better life to unsuccessful migrants, but the justice of a measured flow into Europe cannot be denied. The end of the wars in their home countries that prompt and force them to leave is the only real solution to the migrant problem and deserves intense, continuing work.
Refugees Need Facts as Well as Food
Zora O’Neill – USA Today
For a couple of fleeting months, the system was working reasonably well. But now we’re back at a point dangerously close to last summer’s chaos and stress, thanks to the March agreement between the European Union and Turkey. Under that alarmingly imprecise deal, all people arriving on the Greek islands are considered — well, what, exactly?
No one, including the Greek police who began deporting refugees April 4, appears to understand who should be deported and when. The police now admit they might have accidentally deported 13 people who should have been allowed to apply for asylum.
Meanwhile, the tension among refugees is mounting again.
Those who have arrived in the past few weeks are confined in detention centers that are growing more crowded each day. The deal was meant to deter people from taking boats to Greece, but the smuggling traffic has not stopped — probably because there is equally little information available in Turkey. On Lesbos and Chios, there have been hunger strikes, fistfights, vocal protests and attempted suicides.
WATCH: Excerpts from Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing (April 12) on Violent Extremism and the Role of Foreign Assistance. Sen. Lindsay Graham, Former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Bono testify about how spending now to help Syrian refugees is an investment in stopping violent extremism.
Out of Africa
Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times
Just as Syria’s revolution was set off in part by the worst four-year drought in the country’s modern history — plus overpopulation, climate stresses and the Internet — the same is true of this African migration wave. That’s why I’m here filming an episode for the “Years of Living Dangerously” series on climate change across the planet, which will appear on National Geographic Channel next fall. I’m traveling with Monique Barbut, who heads the U.N.Convention to Combat Desertification…
Says the U.N.’s Barbut, “Desertification acts as the trigger, and climate change acts as an amplifier of the political challenges we are witnessing today: economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism.” She shows me three maps of Africa with an oblong outline around a bunch of dots clustered in the middle of the continent. Map No. 1: the most vulnerable regions of desertification in Africa in 2008. Map No. 2: conflicts and food riots in Africa 2007-2008. Map No. 3: terrorist attacks in Africa in 2012.
All three outlines cover the same territory.