Dangers Ahead As EU Closes The Doors.

 Which Way To Freedom ?

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Present Issues – European Policy – Future Problems

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 Croatia Landmines


Changes To The Asylum Process As The Doors Close?

Sept 26th 

The rationale behind decisions taken by a summit of EU Prime Ministers on September 23rd is not as transparent as it could be. Clearly the EU want to improve, through financial aid, the conditions in the refugee camps in the countries that border Syria;  Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

If the conditions are better, some, but not all, refugees may be more likely to stay there – so it is appropriate for the  EU leaders to invite the Turkish President (whose country has the largest number of refugees) to the next leaders summit in October, but why have they not invited his counterparts in Jordan or the Lebanon?

That said, some refugees in these camps will not want to stay in them, whether it is  because they do not have the basic dignities such as privacy, a home, work and education for their children.  Refugees, whether they are in camps or not, have set their sights on resettling in Europe on a scale for which EU is not prepared.

Until now the EU has had policies for dealing with asylum seekers, but the scale of the Syrian problem has forced EU leaders to rethink these policies. The agreement on the 23rd September includes proposals which are difficult to piece together.  This lack of  clarity raises the question – is  a sea change in EU refugee policy imminent?

Taken together, these proposals  understandably  focus on the plight of Syrian refugees. This focus was further highlighted by the  German Chancellor’s comments that she welcomed the summit’s agreement on dealing with the Syrian situation – without indicating what will happen to Syrian refugees who want to resettle in Europe. Neither is any reference  made to migrants from elsewhere in the world who are also on their way to Europe, whether via Turkey or other routes.

At this point you might wonder whether there is a  ‘Plan B’. Well, other aspects of the agreement suggest there might be. If the proposal to seal Europe’s borders was logistically  feasible, no refugees, wherever they came from, would be able to enter Europe. The difficulty here is that some counties in Southern Europe, especially Greece and Italy, would need to seal the sea borders as well.

Even if these borders could be secured (which is very  questionable), responding to the plight of refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq will be more difficult. America, Britain and many other European countries have a responsibility to these people.   Their predicament is a legacy of two very questionable invasions and subsequent hasty military withdrawals that left  ‘power vacuums’.  These vacuums have facilitated on-going civil wars. Should refugees and migrants from these countries be viewed any differently than those from Syria?  However in humanitarian terms, neither should we forget those that have  fled Eritrea, The Sudan and other tyrannical territories.

If Plan B is to close and secure Europe’s borders it might explain the summit’s agreement to focus help and support on so far unnamed ‘hotspots’; which would most likely be in counties in the Balkans such as Serbia and beyond.

This support would have to involve the setting up of camps  similar to those in Turkey. The idea is that you could compensate the Balkan  countries for the inconvenience of hosting people. Without that holistic global  support, the present European blueprint is fundamentally flawed.   The plan to seal the EU borders to those in transit through the Balkan countries is not tenable. Large numbers of displaced refugees could cause economic and political instability in these countries –  and perhaps generate even more refugees on Europe’s doorstep.

Whether these camps are in the Balkans, Turkey, Jordan or the Lebanon, they would be places designed to contain refugees and migrants in a camp environment and at the same time, stem the flow of refugees entering Europe.  It seems inevitable that to justify the camps it will be proposed that those in them can or will have to use them as bases from which they can apply for asylum in Europe. This policy is currently employed in the Turkish camps by the UK Government.

Another concern that the summit does not seem to address, is what should happen to anyone who is refused admission to Europe whether they are in the Schengen Zone, any country in the EU, or in a country on Europe’s borders.

Without clarification of these proposals, many refugees who can afford to do so will take their chances with the people traffickers, and we will be back to where we were in the spring, with people drowning in droves In a few weeks, as winter arrives, others may freeze to death trekking through sub-zero temperatures in Eastern Europe.

America, Britain,  the Arab World and the United Nations all have responsibilities in this situation, and the EU should actively and very publicly demand that they are more proactive in helping to deal with this crisis.

The EU cannot deal with this issue alone. Neither should anyone who is in fear for their life be  subjected to the pointless assessment of whether they fit into the refugee or economic migrant category. It is actually insulting.

Without that holistic global  support, the present European blueprint is fundamentally flawed.   Equally flawed is the plan to seal the EU borders to those who leave North Africa or Turkey of their own volition – it simply will not work.

Put  bluntly,  the September 23rd agreement  is a political construct of so-called European Unity designed to paper over the cracks and appease the dissenting governments of countries like Hungary and Slovakia.  If anything, it is likely to accelerate the exodus of refugees from Syria and other countries who don’t want to end up in a ‘hotspot’ after the EU door closes.



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