The USD 6.7 billion deal between Brussels and Ankara is falling off the rails. As one country after another slammed the gates shut on the million or so people fleeing the civil war in Syria, governments in Europe came under increasing pressure to ‘do something’ about the millions of people seeking safety from warfare.
The solution was criticised from the beginning. Some said that it violated human rights while others pointed out that Turkey was not safe for refugees. Turkey was already host to about a million safety seekers but agreed to take back people who had left Turkey and become stuck in Greece.
To achieve Turkey’s cooperation, the government in Brussels agreed to pay Turkey nearly seven billion dollars and to accept one Turk for every Syrian accepted back from Greece. This became known as the 1:1 plan. The plan is not working.
Refugees who agreed to return to Turkey have had a cruel and possibly deadly joke played on them. The German news outlet, Der Spiegel, recently reported the plight of a young, pregnant, married woman who agreed to go back to Turkey as she was blocked from joining her husband in London. This woman taught French before the civil war. When her boat landed in Turkey, she was immediately incarcerated in a squalid detention camp on the Syrian border.
The prison camp prohibits entry to journalists, aid organizations and attorneys. The young woman has been denied medical attention and access to attorney help. This violates the agreement. Others who have fled fighting have been deported to Syria and Afghanistan. These two countries are definitely not safe.
President Erdogan has recently tightened his grip on power. He has indicated that he will make the rules about who will be put forward to leave the prison camps for European countries. And it is becoming evident that there is a preponderance of serious medical cases and those will very poor education being allowed to leave. Some refugees already approved for exit have had their papers cancelled when authorities discovered that they were professionals.
Today the policy was made clear. This is a violation of the agreement.
Turkey has now officially informed the UNHCR that Syrian academics and their families are no longer permitted to leave the country by way of the 1:1 mechanism. Der Spiegel
I don’t have the answers to this humanitarian crisis. I suggest one way to help finance the costs to decently house people fleeing warfare could be to tax at 100% arms and munitions being sold to foreign countries. Simply put, if France arms dealers sell a billion dollars’ worth of weaponry to Libya, they would have to contribute an equal amount of money to refugee support.
Refugees -- too many, too much noise, too much garbage. Humans are messy creatures and when you have a mass exodus from a war zone you get some unwanted side effects. Millions of people have been displaced by the wars in the Middle East and many are risking their lives to start anew in safer places.
Some countries in Europe are slamming their borders shut, saying that they cannot cope with the thousands of people on the move. Hungary has shut its borders. Chain link and razor wire greet the refugees. The Hungarian authorities have threatened to deport the refugees to their home countries, no matter that there is a particularly nasty war raging.
Slovakia is stopping people at its borders and only allowing smaller groups to transit their territory.
Some countries like Sweden, Austria and most notably Germany have committed to take many of the asylum seekers. But Der Spiegel is reporting that in Germany the welcome mat is beginning to wear thin. The small village of Hesepe in Lower Saxony has 2 500 residents. They are currently hosting 4 000 safety seekers. Disruption to the usual way of life is inevitable, yet the residents remain remarkably hospitable.
Other areas have not been so welcoming. Bigots and white supremists have been blamed for fire bombing a recently completed apartment building planned to house refugees.
Germany has registered over 400 000 people fleeing warfare between September 5 and October 15, a staggering number. Basic supplies and shelters are lacking in many areas.
With winter fast approaching, Chancellor Angela Merkel made an emergency trip to Turkey to speak with their president about slowing the crush of people. It is not clear if any real changes would be made in Turkey to entice refugees to stay in that country. While that state has basic facilities for refugees, some have been lingering there three and four years. They are not allowed work permits so remain supplicants of the state. President ErdoAan has stated that he would not turn Turkey into “a concentration camp” for the benefit of Europe.
The plight of the people trying to reach safer ground is the lead story on the television news stations. Cold rain is falling on the people and children are falling ill. There seems to be no coordinated plans to deal with the reality of the large movement of people.
To add to the difficulties of housing and sheltering the refugees, hundreds of thousands of migrants have targeted Europe as a way to a better life. Italy has borne the brunt of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Yet what Europe is currently coping with may be just the beginning of mass human movements. It has been predicted that global warming in the next 50 years will displace hundreds of millions of people who can no longer survive in their traditional homelands.
UN Refugee Agency
The majority follow Christian or Moslem teachings. The government of Israel has taken in millions of people, but they follow Jewish teachings and the government is trying to maintain Israel as a Jewish state.
Those who arrive from Africa are allowed in, but are not welcomed. The majority are kept in camps in the Negev desert. They must check in with the authorities there three times a day. New arrivals are required to spend a year in the desert camp before a temporary visa is issued. If a refugee is found outside the detention centre without a visa, he is subject to deportation. It has become increasingly difficult for visa holders to renew their permit.
In addition to the turmoil in Africa other crises are generating asylum seekers. Syria, Iraq and Yemen are all in a state of war. Israel has been asked by neighbouring Lebanon to accept some people fleeing from the fighting, but have been refused.
Lebanon currently hosts over 160 000 Syrian refugees. Many are not registered with the UN agency so the real number is probably much higher.
Some countries in Europe have stepped up to the plate to accept people fleeing war. Others not so much. The Canadian government has pledged to take in 10 000 people, but few have actually been accepted.
UN Refugee Agency
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