10 truths about Europe’s migrant crisis
August 11, 2015 3:26 PM   Subscribe


Your data is confined to Germany.

UNHCR: Global forced displacement tops 50 million for first time in post-World War II era
posted by standardasparagus at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is this a result of greater conflict in the world or greater population in the world? (Or, are those even concepts that can be significantly separated?)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:11 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Probably both. Syria is a population of 23 million in a state of civil war on three (maybe four?) different fronts. They're the biggest individual chunk of the forced displacement with 7.6 million on their own. Then we have Iraq who have over 10% of their 33 million displaced (3.6 million at last count) which bring up 1/5 of the total already from just the internally displaced persons of the two biggest countries. Turkey is holding another 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

Perennial favourites Afghanistan also have a couple of million hanging out in Pakistan and another million or so internally displaced

Then you have Africa. DRC, Sudan, The Central African Republic (where we're still debating whether there's genocide going on or just an ethnic cleansing, you know, because we have to be sure) all ratcheting up the count at a rate of knots.

Then you have the "tiny" little fuckups which are "only" generating six figure displacements like Yemen, Myanmar, Colombia.

Between 10°W and 70°W more of the world is fucked up than not. Most of the burden of this shit (most of which the West created decades and sometimes centuries ago along colonial lines) ends up on the economies of countries that really can't afford it either. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan. Ethiopia, literally the reason for the phrase "dirt poor" is holding half a million refugees. If you can look at that sentence and think the world isn't batshit insane my hat goes off to you.
posted by Talez at 4:45 PM on August 11, 2015 [9 favorites]

From the UNHCR link: "This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa – notably in Central African Republic and South Sudan."

It seems that relatively few "hot zones" account for a large part of the phenomenon.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:47 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, in 1945, world population was about 2½ billion, so 50 million refugees was about 2%. Today with 7 billion total, 50 million is 7/10 of 1%. Let's all hold hands and sing "It's Getting better..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:49 PM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

This is one of the saddest most ignored facts:

migrants were either unaware of the rescue operations in the first place, or simply unbothered by their suspension – a thesis borne out by my own interviews. “I don’t think that even if they decided to bomb migrant boats it would change peoples’ decision to go,” said Abu Jana, a Syrian I met as he was planning to make the sea voyage earlier this year.

It is a fact, there is no "deterrent" there, even aside from the ethical question of speaking of deterrents for refugees. People already face that voyage knowing the incredible dangers and risks of not getting to the destination, not to mention the incredible complications involved in everything that happens after the boats reach the shore on the other side... And there is no comparison to be made with Australia, again even aside from any ethical consideration on the Australian approach.

A lot of the political discourse does not take this into account fully, and what it means and entails.

If the numbers in Europe were spread out across the continent, if the absurd legislation currently in place was changed (first rule that needs to go: Dublin regulation II, a total mess creating far more trouble and suffering, and burocratic and financial burdens, than it was supposed to remove), people wouldn’t even notice, it would all be so much more mangeable for everyone... But geography, messy legislation and cowardice from political leaders (who all KNOW all this too well, but still need the votes!) are obstacles too big to be likely to be overcome any time soon.
posted by bitteschoen at 5:15 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Australia's refugee policy is not a model to be emulated in any way whatsoever.
posted by Talez at 5:41 PM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Indeed but there were constant comparisons being made (at the time those articles were being written, there were reports of talks with European officials and suggestions being given from Australia) and it’s still brought up by right wing politicians in Europe.
posted by bitteschoen at 5:57 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

And, there was overt criticism especially from UK and Germany at the time Italy had the large Mare Nostrum rescue operation, it was accused by some of facilitating traffickers, as if traffickers were the motivating factor, rather than simply the means through which people attempt the journey.
Those facts cited in the article still get ignored all the time.
posted by bitteschoen at 6:11 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our refugee policy is a national embarrassment and disgrace, the only thing worse than that is if other countries took it on board.
posted by Jubey at 6:15 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

just wait till we see global-warming induced migrations
this is just a "warmup" lol
posted by lalochezia at 6:22 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

"When you’re facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, it helps to have a sober debate about how to respond."

Sadly I don't see this happening any time soon. It does beg the question of what is the most effective way to make the debate more sober? Is there anything I/we can do?
posted by Erberus at 7:42 PM on August 11, 2015

I have this image of elderly Europeans sitting on their toilets unable to get up and shouting for help while their Japanese eldercare robot having fallen over lies on its side moving its legs ineffectually.

Will their pleas be heard by a nearby immigrant or by another elderly person likewise incapacitated?
posted by srboisvert at 7:45 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Same as it ever was.

The Daily Mail
The paper that supported Hitler!

posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:55 PM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

This was a very informative articles for me. I wish Canada would take more refugees
posted by biggreenplant at 4:32 AM on August 12, 2015

That's a very reasonable article, but what's the saying about people and positions they didn't reason themselves into?
posted by signal at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2015

Unsettling Encounters: Tourists and Refugees Cross Paths in the Mediterranean

This one is a pretty good read, too.
posted by gimonca at 7:24 AM on August 12, 2015

Your data is confined to Germany.

UNHCR: Global forced displacement tops 50 million for first time in post-World War II era

True, but - the racists and xenophobes want people to believe that the UK and other European countries are absorbing an unprecedented tsunami of humanity. They are most definitely not.

Despite the hysteria, the number of refugees in the UK has actually fallen by 76,439 since 2011.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:31 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

And in Greece: I did not notice any proposed solutions in most of the responses or in the Guardian. I simply do not see a realistic solution for either "side". This needs a bold solution and a lot less rhetoric from all parties. Not in anyway suggesting I have a solution but I would welcome realistic proposals" If I were........ I would.........."
posted by rmhsinc at 9:16 AM on August 12, 2015

Swarms, floods and marauders: the toxic metaphors of the migration debate

(From the OP:) In reality, the number of migrants to have arrived so far this year (200,000) is so minuscule that it constitutes just 0.027% of Europe’s total population of 740 million.

It's like Trump and his rhetoric / views on immigration would be mainstream in Europe.
posted by Asparagus at 10:46 AM on August 12, 2015

So if we change how we refer to it and make it a non-problem how does that address the issues being faced in Greece, Southern Italy and Calais: I happen to think that the proximity of Africa and the Mideast does make it a real issue that must be dealt with in a rationale and humane way-- I am quite sure that defining it as a non problem is not going to do anything but exacerbate a an already very difficult situation. Particularly if you live in Southern Greece/Italy or in the second most most densely populated country in Europe (UK or England as most). I am quite sure most European citizens and certainly the general populations does not want to recreate (on a smaller scale) in mainland Europe what is happening in the countries neighboring the countries being fled. As I said--a real solution is waiting and I certainly have none
posted by rmhsinc at 11:32 AM on August 12, 2015

This needs a bold solution and a lot less rhetoric from all parties. Not in anyway suggesting I have a solution but I would welcome realistic proposals

Yeah, but even the pathetic minimal quota sharing proposal between EU countries got turned down. It would have needed to be much wider and bolder to work anyway. So no chance there.

A truly effective proposal would have needed to be a lot bolder though, and involve too many steps where the obstacles you meet are legal, political, financial...

The first would be to reform the whole asylum laws across Europe, or at a minimum abolish/suspend the first-country of entry rule, which is unfair to ALL parties involved, both the countries which are most directly geographically affected on the one hand, and the refugees themselves, who may have better chances, more contacts, even family already in other countries, you can’t expect them to stay ALL in the first country they land on through the only (perilous) routes available to them. But this of course is taboo at the moment.
Also, abolish laws that prevent refugees from working (it’s so absurd, in Germany for instance, you can’t get a job legally until all your paperwork is being processed and even after, it can last years, and on top of the practical problems this creates, it fosters resentment on all sides).
Give people legal routes instead - sadly, another politically suicidal idea for any government in Europe at the moment... but it would be the best solution.

What about the money required for dealing with growing needs of rescue operations and first accomodation etc.? There could be a lot more freed up, if so much was not being already invested in defensive walls and border patrol operations on the inland (not sea) borders of the EU. Again, give legal routes instead.

But there is a whole industry there, the European defense industry has recycled itself as a border surveillance industry, there are big contracts involved, and lot of lobbying - a few interesting reads on this:
- Security industry is shaping EU legislation and whole section on "Privatising immigration"
- The dubious politics of Fortress Europe

And a couple of books that I stumbled on a while ago, both are books by academic researchers, analysing the business interests at wider level, not just border patrol - I’ve only read the samples and reviews so far but both have been eye-openers:
- The Migration Industry and the Commercialization of International Migration (a review, a PDF sample)
- Excerpt from the introduction to Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (a review)

So we have a loop of political and financial interests that are actively blocking a rational effective approach.

The best we can hope for, realistically, in this context is that each country manages to provide more assistance, also through NGO’s and voluntary local initiatives, which is what is happening already. If it wasn’t for NGO’s and volunteers, it’d all be a lot worse.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was also a great thought-provoking read – Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration, by Stephan Faris, who also wrote this piece he wrote after visiting Lampedusa, "holiday destination, migrant dystopia".
posted by bitteschoen at 11:54 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

bittschoen--It will take a while to digest but FWIW and A+ for the work--I sincerely appreciate it. I will read it. I would like to make a contribution to one of the NGO's doing real work on this Any thoughts
posted by rmhsinc at 12:28 PM on August 12, 2015

Faris's article on Lapedusa is excellent--clear, simple--the best of journalistic writing. Also moving and sobering Thanks Again
posted by rmhsinc at 12:48 PM on August 12, 2015

rmhsinc, glad to hear you found the links useful and yes Faris’s piece affected me a lot too. (The whole topic affects me a lot personally, so apologies for these multiple comments!)
There is a network of the main refugee assisting organisations in Europe, connected through the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

It has to be said that also churches and religious organisations often do a lot of work for refugees, including providing accomodation and centres for asylum seekers (one of the biggest is the Jesuit Refugee Service). But also at smaller local level, I’ve seen that personally both in Italy and in Germany.
And then individuals... at that smaller local level, on top of NGO’s and churches, there are many non-affiliated individual citizens doing the impossible, making up for the lack of infrastructure. It doesn’t often get press coverage. Like now in Berlin there have been for days hundreds of people queueing every day outside the main office for refugees and asylum seekers, under hot temperatures with no water, and it was volunteers who got organised to provide them with water and food and accomodation. Totally grassroots. They have Facebook groups and they post a list of what’s needed every day, where to bring it, who collects it, etc. People organise accomodation also in their own homes. All this was started by citizens, authorities only started making plans to intervene after so many volunteers had taken initiative.
So that looks like the only viable approach right now, more people doing this sort of thing, it puts direct pressure on governments to react, at least locally.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aylan Kurdi’s Death Resonates in Canadian Election Campaign [New York Times]
While the photograph of a 3-year-old Syrian boy’s body quickly focused the world’s attention on the migrant crisis in the Middle East and Africa, it has taken on a particular resonance in Canada with the discovery that the boy’s family had been unable to obtain immigration visas. The death of the boy, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned with his brother and mother off the coast of Turkey, has also become an emotional issue in the Canadian election. Even before the plight of the Kurdi family flashed across social media, opposition politicians, along with advocacy and religious groups, had strongly criticized the refugee policies of Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper’s Conservative government.
posted by Fizz at 6:23 AM on September 4, 2015

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