How is Europe dealing with refugees?
The United Nations has released a shocking report to mark World Refugee Day on July 20. For the first time, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR counted over 70 million refugees worldwide in 2018. At the same time the EU is increasingly sealing itself off, observers criticise. Commentators present constructive ideas for the refugee debate.
We need a youth movement for refugees
Just as they do for climate change young people in the West could raise awareness for young refugees, the Irish Examiner enthuses:
“In a very short space of time, young people have awakened the sleeping giant of public apathy and galvanised millions of ordinary people into bringing pressure on their politicians and public representatives to take climate change seriously. … Those same young people could do the same for the refugee crisis, using their unique ability to empathise with people their own age, more than 30 million of them who have become displaced while fleeing war, famine and persecution.”
Break the vicious circle of fear and fake news
France's former minister of education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem demands in Le Monde that efforts be stepped up to combat hatred and fake news in the immigration debate.
“We must show humanity, empathy, intelligence and knowledge if we are to break the vicious circle that is leading us into global catastrophe: always more fear and hostility but also doubts about facts and figures and thus ignorance among those who are lucky enough to be able to live and remain in their own countries and therefore to take in others. If we wish that our honour matches the courage of these people, we must overcome the infernal mechanism in our post-fact era and create the conditions for a truly democratic, reasonable, informed, enlightened and humane debate.”
Pub talk determines the agenda
The law is taking a nationalist beating in Europe, Tageblatt bemoans:
“In Italy rescue boats are now having to defend themselves in court against accusations of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. When all they have done is to comply with the guidelines from the 2004 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on how to deal with people in danger at sea - namely to help them. Parliaments can pass laws, governments can issue orders, but injustice is still injustice. The Italian far-right promised to close ports to immigrants in their election campaign. After their election victory the judiciary started pursuing anyone who put common humanity and international law above Italian injustice. The shocking thing about this is that once again pub talk is determining the agenda.”
Europe flouts human rights
Europe has hollowed out the human right to asylum, philosopher of law Javier de Lucas laments in El País:
“Many EU states are allowing the violation of the basic principle of 'non refoulement' in other words, not returning people to the horrors from which they have fled. They hand over desperate people who have escaped the hell of Libya to the Libyan coastguard. ... And this is happening although the UN and the NGOs have established that Libya is anything but a safe country, and the same goes for its ports. ... The worst thing is that we are closing our eyes to the consequences: we talk about 'refugees' at the same time as we try to ensure that they cannot escape. Instead we should talk about 'asylum seekers' - people who are seeking protection and risking their lives to make an application for asylum.”