Friday, 29 January 2016

EUROPE: Understanding the ''refugee-crisis''

The refugee crisis has exposed cracks in the European political foundations. Failure to agree over how to implement quotas and inability to coordinate humanitarian actions. It has allowed Eurosceptics to vaunt their populist talents. Information chaos has wreaked havoc in Europe, radicalising public opinion. It becomes difficult to achieve objectivity in a crisis as complex as this one.

In fact, the crisis has divided Europe in three groups: The first group does not shy away from uncertainty and welcomes change with expectant anticipation.The third group hates what is happening out fear of the new, the ''unknown'', and the second group is sitting between the first and the third, waiting to see how things will develop. 

We live in a new period of mass migration. We have yet to realize and recognize it. However, the situation is not very different than in the fourth century A.D. People move from their old environment to a new one. Economic and political factors account for much of this phenomenon. 

European societies have debated for years how much immigration is acceptable, the type of immigrants and the culture they come from. This is an attempt to bring structure in a process, which, considered closely, does not allow for any structure. The interests of those who want to emigrate correspond with those of the people living in the countries to which they want to immigrate. An agreement between the old and incoming inhabitants is the foundation for the peaceful management of new mass migration. The new immigration law should be perceived as nothing other than this.

Today's refugee crisis also recalls the period immediately after World War II. There were more than 40 million refugees in Europe alone. These displaced persons, as they were called at the time, were forced to flee their homes because of violence, forced relocation, persecution, and destruction of property and infrastructure. 

The dire postwar situation led to the creation in 1950 of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which was expected to serve only a temporary mandate, protecting displaced people for three years. But the problem never went away. On the contrary, the UNHCR is not only still with us: it is sounding an alarm. In its 2015 mid-year report, the agency put the number of ''forcibly displaced'' people worldwide at 59.5 million at the end of 2014, including 19.5 million internationally displaced., which they define as true refugees. Unfortunately, the report underscores the incompleteness of our understanding of the refugee problem. 

In fact, throughout history, the fate of refugees seeking asylum in another land has largely been unstudied. Historians record wars, and they mention diasporas, but they rarely show much interest in how refugees crisis arose or were resolved. To the extent that history is written by the victors, that is not surprising. The knowledge that one's country terrorized a minority to the point that its members had to flee, or that a substantial share of one's forebears arrived in defeat and panic, is not exactly an inspiring source of national identity. So the stories, unheard and untold, are lost.That is why we need more research on what can and should be done for refugees in the long term.

The third group on this ''refugee debate'' argues that that asylum-seekers are not really desperate, but just using a crisis as pretext for admission to richer country. Refugees flows are driven largely by political terror and human rights abuses. People in fear for their lives run to the nearest safe place, not the richest, there is no escape from the moral imperative to help them.
The arbitrariness of our current refugee procedures, calling for ''legal frameworks based on on the need for protection, rather than triggering causes of the migration. But formulating such rules requires some careful economic thought. The framers of a refugee system need to consider the rules' incentive effects on the migrants themselves and on the governments of their countries of origin.

Under today's haphazard and archaic asylum rules, refugees must take enormous risks to reach safety, and the costs and benefits of helping them are distributed capriciously. It does not have to be this way. Economists can help by testing which international rules and institutions are needed to reform an inefficient and often inhumane system.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Investigative Journalist
Political Analyst/Writer
World Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: Le Monde--Refugees crossing-