Mahrukh A Mughal
The war in Syria has continued the catastrophe to escalate. To deal with the crisis by certain European states and many other humanist organisations the issue still needs to be addressed more carefully. United Nations, UNHCR issued a report in 2014 showing that worldwide forced displacement numbers had reached 51.2 million, a level not previously seen in the post-World War II era. After one year this figure has grown to a staggering 59.5 million, roughly equaling the population of Italy or the United Kingdom. Persecution, conflict, generalized violence, and human rights violations have formed a ‘nation of the displaced.
The war in Syria, entering into its fifth year, was a major cause for the global increase of migrants. More than eight million Syrians estimated to be displaced within their country, global forced displacement levels were heavily impacted by this one country. The country, overtaking Afghanistan which had held this position 30 years ago, has become the world’s largest source country of refugees during 2014-2015.
The USA played a hypocritical role in the entire Middle East crisis and was responsible in the growth of ISIS, since all the weapons left by the Americans were used by ISIS. Russia’s direct Involvement in Syria has escalated the war. It has become a proxy war featuring Russia Iran against the United States and its allies. Whatever it is, it has so far killed 220,000 people, displaced half of the country’s population, and facilitated the rise of ISIS.
The EU has spent years building the common European Asylum system (CEAS) which is intended to ensure that the rights of refugees under international law are protected in its member states. However many states have yet to properly implement the set standards. There is also a revised European Agenda on migration which plans to relocate migrants who reach the EU from countries at the EU’s external frontiers- like Italy, Greece and Hungry- to countries which have few arrivals. The plan is to relocate 160,000 people across the EU over the next two years. The Syrian and other Arab country’s deteriorating political condition have continued the influx of migrants to EU.
In 2015 more than 487,000 people arrived at Europe’s Mediterranean shores in the first nine months, just double all of 2014 and the highest member since second keeping began. The journey is fraught with danger nearly 3400 people have perished crossing the Mediterranean in 2015, not counting those who lost their lives on route. With the unprecedented volumes of new arrivals, the European countries have reached a breaking point in their ability to meet (EU) standards for receiving and procession applicants. Ninety percent of the 4 million Syrians displaced outside their country’s border for instance are located in just three countries Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As the war continues into its fifth year and resources and opportunities in these countries dry up, more of the displaced have begun looking into Europe for shelter.
EU has been endeavoring to settle the crisis of migrants, however there are critics who view that the Europe’s new border policy bans entry of economic migrants and is unfair for those seeking a better life. However, migrant crisis of war torn countries has created a high influx of refugees which keeps parts of Europe in suspense for a few years. The search for a European solution has proven to be laborious, as social and political differences between member’s countries become more and more pronounced.
Individual European Union member’s states are unable to effectively handle migrants in flows on their own. Most EU member’s states have to deal with shaking public finances. Moreover, the financial burden that comes with welcoming migrants is distributed too unevenly. Some countries are doing the heavy lifting in absolute terms. Germany’s readiness to take over 40000 migrants in 2014 being a case in point. Sweden did well in recognising 74% applicants; some other member states show little solidarity with EU towards asylum seekers. Application closed in Hungry; Croatia and Greece for instance were almost rejected. Greece is experiencing an ongoing economic, financial and social crisis of historical properties of its own.
For more than a year now, hundreds of thousands of people have been bordering over crowded boats along the Turkish coast. Recently, some of these travellers who reached Greece safely find themselves on boats once again. Back to Turkey more than 300 people have been deported from Greece, as part of a deal between the European Union and Turkey. The UN and several human rights group have raised their concern about the EU-Turkey deal, calling it inhumane. The idea at the heart of deal, sending virtually all irregular migrants back to Turkey from the Greece Island- is the most controversial. On the other hand the European leaders insist that everything will be in compliance with the law. European Council President, Donald Tusk has announced that the deal excludes any kind of collective expulsions. But amnesty international has accused the EU of Turning its back on a global refugee crisis, and willfully ignoring its international obligations.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) will take part in the scheme, but is uncomfortable what has been agreed. Though, no doubt there are serious concern over such a big legal challenges to the European leadership as discussed in Brussels, this is an international human crisis that requires to put aside so called hurdles in this case. During the discussion this issue in Brussels, Several EU countries insisted that Turkey should change its law so that migrants from all countries can receive formal international protection there under the Geneva Convention. But the Turkish authorities refused to do that. The resettlement programme will, at the insistence of Turkey has started. It is to limit irregular migrants and the Greek Islands will be eligible to send back the Syrian migrants to Turkey in the refugee camps. Greece is already hosting 50,000 migrants and now the working of the deal in a proper manner in the future to settle the migrants has to be tested.
Human rights groups have deep concern on it because of the conditions of the migrants which they are facing in Turkey. Amnesty international has presented evidence that Turkey is sending some refugees back to Syria and this is violation of Geneva Convention. Human rights groups have criticized the agreement, saying it disregards the rights of refugees, Asylum seekers and migrants. Some critics say the new arrangement abdicates Europe’s responsibility under international law to assist people currently fleeing war, political strife and economic deprivation. The deal has created more chaos in the Greek refugee camps and exposes deportees to dangerous conditions in Turkey.
On the other hand, Arab states are not ready to open their doors for the refugees. GCC and UAE have not shown anything to stand for this issue and the only thing done was a collection of 1000 million $ through charitable organization that was provided by the Gulf States. Saudi Arabia claims, it has let in 500,000 people since 2011, primarily as migrant workers; however, there is no official policy in this direction. It may be owing to the fear of political stability within their own borders, and an overturn to the demographic balance. Criticism is getting louder to the rich countries of Middle East to take in more Syrian refugees.
Saudi Arab and the other Gulf countries is not the signatory to the UN refugee convention, so the displaced Syrians in Saudi Arabia are not officially designated as refugees. Lebanon has accepted 1.3 million refugees- more than a quarter of its population, so why Saudi Arabia doesn’t let in more people and the UAE prefer to pay to equip and maintain refugee camps in other countries, Close to Syrian border? Sectarian difficulties have already surfaced Muslim countries that have been opened to displace Syrians, upsetting often fragile ethnic religious balances. Though Egypt initially welcomed Syrians, however, the government is suspicious of refugees to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood. This unprecedented human tragedy is to be resolved by the international community and particularly the EU, USA and the rich Middle East countries have to bear the entire burden according to their due share.
—The writes internationally on Political and International Issues.