Posts Tagged ‘Refugees’

Europe and the refugees

November 20, 2015


3.FT_15.09.29_asylum_420pxThe Syrian civil war is a worse disaster than the Haitian earthquake or the Indian Ocean tsunami.

More than 4 million Syrians are refugees outside their country and many more are homeless and displaced within the country.

But fewer than one-tenth of the Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Europe, and, according to Pew Research, four out of five of the asylum-seekers are not Syrian.

The International Convention on Refugees requires countries to accept anyone who flees their own country out of a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

National governments put applicants through a vetting process to determine whether they truly are refugees.  I think it is reasonable to think that many of the applicants are just typical poor immigrants in search of a better life.  I don’t condemn anybody from migrating in search of a better life, but this is not the same thing as being a refugee.

I think it would be a nice gesture for European countries to take in Syrian refugees.  I think the countries that should take in the most refugees are the countries that did the most to create the refugee problem.

Aside from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, these countries are the USA, the UK and France, which have bombed Syria and backed radical terrorist rebels against the government.

But this would be a gesture only.  The only real solution to the Syrian refugee problem is peace in Syria, followed by rebuilding, so that they can return to their own country.

World’s displaced people total 51 million

July 3, 2014

The United Nations reports that at last count there are more than 51.6 million “dislocated persons” in the world—refugees, asylum seekers and people left homeless by war.

That’s the most since the end of World War Two, and 6 million more than the year before.

If they came together to form an independent country, it would be the world’s 26th largest in population—just smaller than South Africa, but more populous than South Korea or Spain.

And that doesn’t count poor people from Latin America and the Far East trying to get into the United States, and poor people from Africa and the Middle East trying to get into the European Union.

Supposedly they aren’t refugees because they’re fleeing poverty, not violence, but it’s hard to separate the two in countries where a ruthless military and police are the only things standing between the wealthy elite and the rebellious poor.

Syrian refugees in Turkey.   Photo: Global Post

Syrian refugees in Turkey. Photo: Global Post

An estimated 16.7 million are refugees—people driven out of their countries by war or persecution.  Among them are 5 million long-term Palestinian refugees.  Roughly half of the rest come from three war-torn countries—Afghanistan (2.56 million), Syria (2.47 million) and Somalia (1.12 million).

Another 33.3 million are what the UN calls “internally displaced persons.”  They are refugees who haven’t crossed an international border.  An estimated 6.5 million are in Syria, 5.7 million in Colombia, 3.3 million in Nigeria, 2.9 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2.1 million in Iraq and 1.1 million in Somalia.   I am astonished at these numbers.

The other “dislocated persons” are asylum seekers—people who claim refugee status, but haven’t been granted it.  Under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, it is a violation of international law to send refugees back to the countries from which they have fled, but this law is widely disobeyed and there is no way to enforce it.   Most of the world’s refugees are in poor Third World countries, such as Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The United States ranks No. 10, below China, in the number of refugees we take in, but, on the other hand, the USA has unwillingly taken in millions fleeing poverty and violence in Mexico and Central America.


The passing scene: Links & comments 7/1/14

July 1, 2014

The Clintons’ web of wealth: Where did Bill and Hillary get all their money? by Zaid Jilani for Al Jazeera America.

After stepping down as President, Bill Clinton repeatedly received six-figure fees for speeches from Citicorp, Goldman Sachs and other banking and financial firms that benefited from his administration’s policies.  He also received six-figure speaking fees from business interests in the Middle East while his wife was Secretary of State.

This information is from financial disclosures required of office-holders and their spouses when Hillary Clinton was a U.S. Senator and then Secretary of State.   News reports indicate she has received two $200,000 speech fees from Goldman Sachs since leaving office.

While these facts raise suspicions of payoffs and conflicts of interests, Jilani pointed out that it isn’t unusual for Washington office-holders to cash in like this after they leave public service.

Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater by James Rissen of the New York Times.

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq.

But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

People on the move by Dmitry Orlov.

Most Americans seem quite incapable of making the simple connection between destroying somebody’s house and having that somebody then move in to share yours.

An estimated 50 million people are refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and unauthorized immigrants.  Dimtry Orlov pointed out that a high proportion are from countries disrupted by the U.S. war on terror, the U.S. war on drugs or U.S. intervention to protect dictators against radical guerrillas.   These include 7 million from Mexico and 3 million from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Afghanistan, Iraq generate the most refugees

June 28, 2011

Top refugee origins 2006

More refugees are fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq than from any other countries.

America’s wars continue to account for many of the world’s refugees: 4.7 million originate from Iraq and Afghanistan, almost half the world’s total, according to the UNHCR’s annual report.  America also accepts more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country (71,400 in 2010).  Most refugees, however, end up as temporary residents in neighboring countries.  If a conflict or natural disaster is regional, states of origin may also be host states. Hundreds of thousands have fled civil wars in Congo and Sudan, but many seek refuge in both countries too.  Tibetans may flee China, but the People’s Republic hosts more refugees than it produces—mostly accounted for by 300,000 Vietnamese long settled in China.

via The Economist.

Click on Chart of the Day for The Economist’s chart showing the top refugee-producing countries, as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Sorry, I wasn’t able to download it directly into this post.   [Hat tip to The Dish for the chart.]

The  reasons for the refugee flight appear to be different in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In Afghanistan, people are mainly fleeing the war itself.  Refugee International, a humanitarian organization, said some refugees are fleeing Afghanistan’s corrupt and out-of-control police forces, but many have been driven from their homes by air strikes and Special Forces raids.

In Iraq, as the war winds down, refugees flee mainly sectarian violence by Sunni and Shiite Muslims.  Many members of Iraq’s centuries-old Christian population, which dates back to before the coming of Islam, have fled.  This is something new.  Saddam Hussein was a cruel tyrant, but he did not single out Christians for persecution.