The inescapable humanitarian crisis on wealthy Europe’s laps: States & peoples react differently

4 Sep

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

At its worst, the use of the term “migrant” by Europe, including by the international media, is devious. To start with, it is not consistent with international law.

The word “migrant” in the case of the current humanitarian crisis is selectively employed and as such is preferred for its implied inherent automaticity. Putting it briefly, it is judgemental. Therefore, even before processing the asylum-seekers, it deprives them of the human rights aspects of the right to seek and receive protection.

If they are considered ‘migrants’, automatically bias kicks in and they are considered comfort-seekers, as economic migrants and chances of their expulsion/deportation increase.

Europe certainly knows that by law and practice, there are refugees – those that cross international borders. It also knows that most often this happens because of fear. There are also “people of concern”, who seek the help of the better of human societies. The international community considers them as escapees from ‘refugee like situations’. In practice, it is a fine distinction, as has shown Europe its generosity across times since the end of World War II.

What the current crisis has challenged is whether modern and united Europe has the capability to be humanitarian especially as its experiences in the Second World War have taught it.

However, Europe’s dilemma, i.e., European Union’s, is the fact that, unlike anytime before, times and politics have dwarfed its sympathies humanitarian concerns. While there is growing weariness in the populations of Europe due to weak economic conditions and the rise of far right forces, most European citizens in every country are shocked by the current cruelty, including the fast rising walls and barbed wires across frontiers have elicited.

Angela Merkel’s hard stance during the Greek bailout negotiations had likened her terribly ungenerous. It is all gone and wiped off from her record and she now is European leader par excellence.

Consequently, under her leadership today not only that Germany is a fully healed nation from its past sins. But also it has shown that it wants to protect the legacies left behind by those that built the European Union.

It goes without saying, therefore, that if EU fails in its humanitarian gestures today, as exemplified primarily by Sweden, Germany, Austria etc., and with further robust actions, the Union’s experiment thus far would be jeopardized – including its hardwon free movement of peoples, labor, goods (schengen) and eventually capital, accelerating demise of the uncertain euro!

In the circumstances, the far right should not be allowed to come with all sorts of subterfuges, as Hungary is doing now using EU regulations and laws, and some others behind the curtain. Failure in this area would only undermine possibilities for European collective action that history would honor.

Christian or Moslem refugees, who are now knocking at the doors of Europe – be that they come from the Middle East, Asia and Africa – they are only the unfortunate victims of wars and conflicts, mostly executed by powerful nations and the consequential political and state failures that have ensued. There is also the added factor: the political, economic and military support dictators have been receiving from powerful nations have killed the prospects for democracy, respect for fundamental human rights and the promises of good governance!

In the south, our families live in a very divided world, by which the dictators enrich themselves. This has become a push factor.

The UNHCR’s role has been to encourage states to offer what they can afford. Hungary and the United Kingdom have failed everyone in that. In the face of the problem, Mr. Cameron’s numbness is troubling. Thus far, he is being accused of two sins: First, he has chosen to “walk on by on the other side”, as the First Minister of Scotland Nicholas Sturgeon put it on Sept 3, 2015. Secondly, he has become the cog in Europe’s wheels from the very beginning undermining efforts at seeking solutions for the present humanitarian problems.

As an older person, I say, that is not the Britain I have known and have come to like since my school days as a young man.

(Credit: CNN)[click to magnify]
(CNN) Europe is in the midst of an unprecedented human migration. Fleeing war, fearing for their life and dreaming of a better life far from the poverty and upheaval of their unstable nations, hundreds of thousands are flocking to Europe’s shores. The migrants and refugees risk their lives in rickety boats and cramped lorry containers — only to be greeted by governments that can’t agree on how, or if, to welcome them.

Check out the country-by country developments in the refugee and migrant crisis unfolding across much of Europe from CNN.

I would not know what James Kelly would say to Europeans today. At the end of the Cold War, in a 1990 article titled Refugee Protection: Whose responsibility is it anyway?, he observed:

“Usually it is a state, exercising its sovereign authority, which grants refugee status according to its laws and procedures. Indeed, control over entry of non-citizens is one of the few universal characteristics of national sovereignty, one which no modern nation-state has abrogated.

How would all those with barbed wires, including tongue lashes by David Cameron, answer to the indignities these fellow human beings should suffer to get to the shores of Europe?

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