Refugees Matter

With massive migration of refugees fleeing war, poverty and terror in Syria and dozens of conflict zones in the Middle East, to Europe, the old question of ‘Whiteman’s burden’ returns with a difference. They say it is the worst migration crisis since World War II. In truth it is the crisis of humanity. America and its European allies are in the main responsible for it while reactionary rulers, near and far, benefit from this unprecedented crime against humanity, despite words to the contrary. This refugee crisis was made in America. Washington helped create the conditions with its ‘war on terror’ action programme, yet very few people blame it on America for the crisis. Those who are shedding tears now are no humane logician. The early colonisers created ‘colonial enclaves’ in their homelands to protect their imperial interests in colonies. And now neo-colonisers who are continually destabilising regime after regime in third world countries through direct invasion, civil wars and launching monsters like IS, while displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, have no option but to accept the browns and blacks as refugees or guest workers. The most curious aspect of this predicament is not so much the attitudes of some governments but rather the European racists who find a new target in these hapless people.

Around 600,000 migrant refugees have crossed into Europe over the Mediterranean, so far in 2015. This number had landed in southern Europe, predominantly in Italy and Greece. Other refugees flood across the land borders. Frontline countries such as Greece, Italy and Hungary receive thousands of migrants everyday. Two-fifths of those that reach Germany, come via non-Mediterranean routes. No doubt Europe is struggling to deal with its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. The European Union’s eastern states are in revolt over EU’s efforts to persuade them to absorb a greater share of the refugees flooding into the continent.
Catholic Poland is insisting that only Christians be sent to its cities, and thereby, delaying taking in refugees. Latavia is in ferment over a government announcement that 200 migrants from Greece and Italy, would be transferred to its towns. Race riots have taken place in Slovakia. To keep out illegals, Hungary has built a wall, and has refused to take in migrants, through an all-Europe arrangement, being promoted by Berlin. The EU’s former communist members are reluctantly agreeing to take a minuscule number of refugees, far below the figures, set before the Council of the European Union, in Brussels. Distribution of those who cannot immediately be deported, has strained Europe’s claims to solidarity, between its members.

Meanwhile EU Commission Chief Jean Claude Juncker unveiled major plans to accommodate at least 160,000 refugees and ease the pressure on border states. The migrants’ plight defies description. The picture of a three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach, may have touched many hearts around the world but the gravity of the war refugee problem is much deeper and horrifying. How many Kurdis are dying everyday in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere without being noticed by the media, is anybody’s guess. The Syrian civil war is said to have displaced more than 4 million people. In response to Juncker’s appeal, some countries have come forward to cope with the emergency situation as Australia expressed its willingness to take an additional 12000 refugees from the Syria and Iraq conflicts. But Juncker is facing stiff opposition from Hungary, Serbia and other small European Union members for his attempt to impose compulsory quotas for refugees for each member country.

Come what may, Europe cannot avoid its responsibility for a humanitarian crisis which is basically their own creation under the command of their super-master—America.

What seems missing in all the reports of exodus, is the class, ‘caste’ (or equivalent), ethnic and race dimension of what is happening. The mass of the poorer and more marginalised sections of peoples in the countries from which people are fleeing are still trapped there and that the waves of refugees who are today managing to get out and about whom people are seeing news reports are by and large those the somewhat better off and those who have some skills and where their ability to raise and pay the $5,000 fee to smugglers—an impossible amount for poorer people. This is not to minimise their sufferings; it is just to put in focus that the mass of people are still trapped; that it is these peoples who face displacement and structural oppression in their home contexts, as well as the growing impacts of climate change; and where there is every reason to think that the walls that they will face, even if they can succeed in getting out, will be insuperably higher.

People who have sought refuge from the ongoing conflict in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, are actually doubly oppressed as a sense of despair has gripped them.

Europe needs skilled labour and may be this is one reason why so many governments are not unwilling to accept so many refugees as Germany expects 800,000 asylum claims this year and it may take half a million annually over several years. Refugees keep coming to Europe, and will continue to risk their lives to come. ‘‘The barrier that once protected the rich world from the poor has been crumbling for years’’.

Vol. 48, No. 11, Sep 20 - 26, 2015