Refugee crisis is not an issue that people around the globe are facing for the first time ever. There are thousands of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia receiving limited global attention. But the world has suddenly felt a 'refugee crisis' after the death migrates to the threshold of Europe. More than half of Syria's population, along with huge number from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, is displaced, making this one of the biggest refugee crises in history. The forces that have created this crisis are colossal and historic in extent. It will not be resolved only by humanitarian support.
This refugee crisis is the dreadful byproduct of an immoral policy of belligerent wars and regime change interventions pursued uninterruptedly by US imperialism, with the aid and involvement of its Western European allies and the Arab countries, over the course of nearly a quarter century. Decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, waged under the pretext of a 'war on terrorism' and justified with the infamous lies about Iraqi 'weapons of mass destruction,' succeeded only in killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
They were followed by the US-NATO war for regime change that turned Libya into a so-called failed state. Then came the Syrian civil war-fuelled by US imperialism and its allies, with the aim of toppling Bashar al-Assad and imposing a more pliant Western puppet in Damascus. Even as thousands of Syrians flee to Europe, the NATO powers are proposing to step up the bombing of their war-torn country and the move for regime change in Syria. The rise of ISIS and the ongoing bloody sectarian civil wars in Syria and this region are the creation of the US devastation of Iraq. Though the Syrians are not in the disposition to accept Assad anymore, Russia, on the other hand, is supporting Assad regime continuously. The People of Syria do not want Bashar al-Assad; they do not want ISIS either. They want democracy, peace and human rights.
The refugees are continuing to take the Mediterranean route into Europe, knowing the fact that this route is the most dangerous in the world. Because European governments have closed off land routes, increasingly limiting options to enter European territory via land. OIC and Arab League countries do not want to give any space to refugees. Asylum-seekers remain unable to get close to the safe land border areas. European governments treat the stream of refugees as a hostile invasion force. This was most clearly articulated by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. "If we give them (the refugees) the impression that they are welcome, that would be a moral defeat," he said in Brussels.
It is a paradox that between 2007 and 2011, the EU provided its member states 2.2 billion euros for refugees, but only a fraction of this amount has gone towards their accommodation and integration. Around half of the money has flowed into the construction of fences, surveillance and controls. The fence has forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to undertake the dangerous route through the Mediterranean, with thousands subsequently dying at sea. Whilst intellectuals and politicians argue for free trade and free capital movements, the number who argues for the free movement of human beings is extremely limited and no international organization promotes it.
The EU must address the inadequacies of the Dublin system, which regulates the entry of migrants. One of the most important problems in European asylum policy is the lack of cooperation amongst different members of the Council of Europe. The most serious concern perhaps in this field remains that of the 'pushbacks'. The 'pushback' practice creates grave human rights concerns, as it fundamentally affects the right to leave a country and to seek asylum.
Amnesty International has proposed some key actions on this issue by the international community. For instance, all the states must ratify Refugee Convention. States must have fair domestic procedures to assess refugee claims and must guarantee fundamental rights such as right to seek asylum, education and healthcare, to refugees. States should offer protection and assistance to victims of trafficking. Governments must abstain from engaging in xenophobia themselves, for example by implying or directly claiming asylum-seekers and migrants are to blame for economic and social problems. UN should establish a global refugee fund; such a fund should fulfil all UN humanitarian appeals for refugee crises.
The refugee numbers are the just tip of a genocidal iceberg. If we do not understand the nature of genocide, we will not be able to understand the genocidal nature of US-led Western interventions. Westerners do not want to face the truth of what their governments are doing - particularly NATO governments. The imperialist countries never bring stability. It infects entire regions with a disease of chronic destruction, dysfunction and death. This refugee crisis is a Neo-Holocaust.
Hasan Toufiq Imam teaches at the Institute of Education, Research & Training, Chittagong University.
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