Rashid A Mughal
December 16, 2015 was a day of great significance and rejoicing for freedom lovers on this entire globe when a Federal court Judge, Richard Leon, gave a historical judgement, ruling the National Security Agency surveillance programme of the US Government, un-constitutional and against personal privacy of an individual. At almost the same time Donald Trump, Republican Party candidate for the Presidential election, indulging in loose talk, as he always does, announced that he will ban Muslims from entering the USA -a mad man’s racist rhetoric, devoid of sanity, common sense and lack of knowledge of international affairs. While there are people like him who spread racism, hatred, bias, arrogance and hostility to people of other faith, culture and religion and even mock people with physical disability, there are also people like Judge Richard Leon, who uphold the basic element and fundamental principle of the American Constitution-Liberty. Hats off to him.
These are very interesting and challenging times. Interesting because every day is a eventful day. Things happening around us are so rapid and fast that we don’t have time to ponder on each and every event in detail and form our honest opinion. Un-rest, terrorism, poverty, social injustice, trafficking, slavery, large scale migration, rich-poor gap, unemployment, weather and climate change challenges have pre-occupied our minds and most importantly forced us to formulate, plan and some cases change our policies-both political and economical.
As behind every crime there is a motive, so behind every act of violence and terrorism there is a motive too which drives the individual to a point where he or she does not care for his or her life and for the lives of others. Hatred breeds hatred. It can never breed love. Only love can breed love. We must understand this phenomenon. killings and migration on a level never seen in the history before. During the last 26 years, after the Kuwait-Iraq war and promulgation of so called “New World Order” the world has seen crisis after crisis-both economic and humanitarian. The wars in middle east have not only ravaged the economy of the affected countries but has resulted in mass killings and migration on a level never seen in the history before. One big question we need to ask ourselves is that who is to be blamed for this debacle.
Perhaps the most significant crisis facing Europe since last two years is the massive influx of migrants, mostly from Middle East, undertaking a perilous journey on unsafe boats and desperately trying to reach EU countries for a safer life. For them it is the only way out to escape persecution from autocratic regimes and find a better future for them and their family. From January to June 2015,roughly 245000 migrants entered Europe but from July to December 2015,this number touched over one million, indicating the nature and extent of crisis. Initially, the host governments welcomed them with open heart and provided them all the possible help but it seems that now the tipping point has reached. Weary of astronomical number of migrants, reaching European shores, the hosts are now finding ways and means to curtail this number by all possible means, which, inter-alia, include confiscating migrants valuable possessions. Denmark, Sweden and Holland initiated this extreme measure.
Some east European countries like Poland and Hungry have flatly refused entry to migrants and asylum seekers. On March 08, 2016, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia closed its borders for migrants. In some cases, deportations have started from some of the European countries on the pretext of so-called criminal activities like minor street crimes. So the scene is now changing and with fast changing scenario the time when Europe closes its borders may come any time soon. Though the United Nations refugee agency has clearly stated that proposal to send back refugees’ en masse from the European Union to Turkey would, contravene their right to protection under European and international law yet countries like Poland and Austria has closed their borders for the migrants.
Turkey has offered on to take back all migrants who cross into Europe from its soil in return for more money, faster EU membership talks and quicker visa-free travel for Turks. EU leaders have accepted the offer in principal. “The collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European Convention of Human Rights” said Europe regional director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.“ Any agreement that may result in a blanket return of foreigners to a third country is not consistent with European law and is not consistent with international law” yet what we are witnessing practically is flouting of these conventions and Laws by some European countries. An other failure of UNO and EU.
Europe had not even fulfilled its agreement last September to relocate 66,000 refugees from Greece, redistributing only 600 to date within the 28 nations bloc. Turkey is hosting nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, the most worldwide and has “done more that all the EU countries together”, he said But its acceptance rate for refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran is “very low”, at about 3 percent.
One other failure we are witnessing today even in the most advanced countries of the world is the escalating gap between rich and poor. The alarming fact is that in spite of all the collective efforts of the government and private agencies the gap is still widening, pointing to yet another failure on the part of leaders. The problem is not insurmountable but what we lack is the will and commitment. According to OECD report for 2015,inequality is highest in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Israel, among OECD countries. It was lowest in Denmark, Slovenia, Slovak Republic and Norway.
Hence what we need to do is to examine the causes of our failures and devise machanisms, formulate policies and establish roadmaps to prosperity by collective efforts of all stake holders. Rich have a duty to share their riches with poor by donating generously to make this world a better and peaceful place for living for every individual-irrespective of caste, color and creed.
— The writer is former consultant, International Labour Organisation and International Organisation for Migration.