War Refugees

Causes range from genocide  to climate change. But at the crux of the world refugee crisis—there are now over 50 million refugees worldwide, and eight die every day reaching for a better life—is a demand for new human relations.

It's hard to register the numbers, or the suffering. In mid-April as many as 500 migrants and refugees from Egypt and other African countries drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when the ship carrying them sank. Over 3,770 people drowned trying to reach Europe last year.

In Europe, most refugees are Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. Much of the world refugee phenomenon flows from the rulers' criminal actions—such as George W Bush's reactionary wars, the fundamentalist religious forces that grew in their wake, Assad's genocide and Putin's rallying of Europe's neo-Nazis under anti-immigrant banners. These racist, imperialist forces both created and profited from the devastation.

That a camp like Idomeni, Greece, can be compared by the Greek Interior Minister to a Nazi concentration camp is a judgement on Europe's "civilization". An estimated 54,000 migrants have been trapped in Greece.

A similar crisis exists in US politics in this election year, as racists like Donald Trump attack immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East. Once again, there is that will to deny any responsibility for centuries of exploitation of Latin America and Africa that is at the root of inhuman attitudes toward refugees, and once again it becomes an opening for the most reactionary politicians.

Refugee crisis stemming from continuing war is nowhere so devastating as in Syria. One third of all Syrian children were born during the five and half year-old civil war. More than 300,000 of these children who total about 3.7 million, were born as refugees. It is estimated that 8.4 million Syrian children, or 80% of Syria’s 18-and-under population are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, either in Syria or in neighbouring countries where they are living in camps under inhuman conditions. Many children grow into adolescence and adulthood, orphaned, uneducated, unemployed and hungry. It’s a human disaster for the once proud Syrian nation.

The primary host town, Killis in Turkey, for Syrian refugees, refused to take any more migrants. Killis, the border town, 40 miles to the east of Hatay, is now hosting 130,000 migrants. They have no resources to tackle this ‘unmanageable’ problem. Thousands of refugees are being forcibly returned by Turkey. Most of those sent back were not registered with the Turkish authorities. As a result they might be declared stateless in their country of origin. Turkey is passing the refugees over to Ahar al-Sham—the Syrian side of the border gate under the control of IS. In other words those who tried to escape IS brutality will have to face it again. With the civil war in Syria taking a more bloody and brutal turn, rape and enslavement of women are rising as weapons of war. And the plight of women refugees beggars description.

What has happened in the five years since the Arab Spring opened a new opening for the Reactionary Right worldwide. Counter-revolution is coming not only from within each country but from without, as in the US-aided Saudi bombing in Yemen, in the Russian and Iranian bombing and ground assaults in Syria. Political bankruptcy of international left is nowhere so glaring as in their failure to address the crisis in the Middle East in its totality, particularly the crisis of war refugees.

Vol. 48, No. 48, Jun 5 - 11, 2016