JULY 2017 - Monthly review on the refugee crisis
People who do not have any contact with refugees do not realize that the refugee crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian problems the world is facing. Here are facts about refugees in numbers: about 4,8 million people have left Syria since 2011, seeking peace and a safe place to live. Syrian refugees have left their houses, jobs and all of their possessions in a country devastated by war. There are between 3 to 4 million refugees from Syria and other countries temporarily accommodated in Turkey, and the numbers are growing each month. The total number of people that are in need of help is 13,5 million.
Chemical weapons are forbidden in war, but they were used more than once in Syria. In the recent chemical attack, 86 civilians were killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the deaths of 86 people, with the death toll expected to rise. The Russian Defense Ministry said that Syrian government planes hit a "big reservoir of rebels at Han Sheikhun" that contained toxic substances. President Donald Trump's administration in the United States blames Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his forces for the attack, while Assad claims the incident was fabricated. Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said that traces of one of the decomposition products of sarin, a chemical known as isopropyl methyphosphonic acid (IMPA), has been detected in the blood and urine of victims brought to Turkey. In every war, there are some bigger interests at stake, and Syria is no exception. Russians and Americans are helping some of the warring sides. President Trump has shut down America’s armament program for training Syrian rebel fighters against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Trump’s decision is an acceptance of defeat on some level. But it is also realistic, and an acknowledgement that the American military program in Syria was a bad idea from the start. In 2017, the most compelling argument for continuing the covert armament program was defensive need, and the covert Syria program definitely did not help with counterterrorism.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have agreed to a ceasefire in southwest Syria during a meeting at G20 summit. Trump made a decision to stop helping Syrian rebels. The war in Syria has gone too far and some people who have been fighting for national reasons have ended up as mercenaries for big forces. Russia is an ally of Assad, and the country has been in talks this year with Turkey and Iran about four conflict zone. In Washington, a senior State Department official talked with reporters about the ceasefire. If USA and Russia want to put an end to the conflict in Syria, both sides need to do something to stop it. The Russians are heavily involved in the conflict. Both sides have an interest in ending the war as soon possible. If that happens, it could be an end to the misery, violence, and refugee crisis.
Nearly a million refugees have come to Germany since 2015, impacting the demographics, economy, culture and more. Due to the influx of immigration to the country, the media put out a high volume of news stories relating to the refugee “crisis.” In order to learn more about the media coverage, an influential German institute created a study which was published in July 2017, about the objectivity of the articles, and they found that journalists lost their objectivity in large scales.
Researches analyzed articles from a sample of major German newspapers, such as Bild, Die Welt, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published from February 2015 to March 2016.
Based on the sample, researchers found that many media outlets failed to remain objective in their reporting on both ends of the political spectrum. Many articles were full of mainstream and uncritical support for the political elite and their open-door politics. At the same time, these articles also accused the opposition and those critical of Angela Merkel and her government policy of being “racists.”
It was discovered that most media coverage excluded the viewpoints of refugees and asylum seekers, often completely ignoring their opinions. Due to a lack of objectivity in media coverage, the German institute found that moralistic reporting created divisions between Germans, while non-objective, subjective reporting has led to the rise of right-wing extremism.
European Court of Justice against Merkel’s “open-door” policy
Conditions have changed and the European Union is now in opposition against its own main political and economic force–Germany, which may create far-reaching consequences. The European Court of Justice reached a ruling that upholds the right of member states to deport asylum-seekers to the first EU country they enter. This is in open rejection of Angela Merkel’s “open-door” policy. The ruling is welcomed in central EU countries, like Austria and Slovenia, which strongly backs the Dublin regulations. The European Union expects to face huge challenges and unpredictable consequences.
Disturbing employment facts from Germany
Nearly 75 percent of immigrants that have entered into Germany in the past two years will face long-term unemployment and live on social welfare. Only 25 percent of them will enter the labor market in the next five years, while the remaining 65 percent will take more than ten years. This is a huge challenge for Angela Merkel and the German government.
Wall between communities
In the Southwest of France, people from the small town of Samaek have built a huge wall around a former hotel that is slated to become a refugee center. The wall is 18 meters long and 1,8 meters high. People that have built the wall say that they are not against immigrants, but they think that the government needs to take care of its own citizens first. One of main critiques is that the refugee resettlement project is disorganized, and the government is doing it without a plan and vision. People are worried how new refugee arrivals will affect their small, tightknit community of nearly 5,000 citizens.
France recently announced that they will build more housing to shelter refugees, and focus on the deportation of undocumented economic immigrants. The new housing initiative will be undertaken due to the inhumane conditions of the refugee camps, where many children reside. Forty percent of refugees and asylum seekers do not have access to housing. The French government plans on increasing the number of housing units that are available for refugees, which currently stands at about 12,000.
Nearly 85,000 asylum seekers have arrived in France in 2017, where the immigration system is flawed and inefficient, compared to previous years. President Emmanuel Macron says that he will work on reducing time for processing asylum requests from 14 months to 6.
The Italian Ministry of Interior stated that the number of migrants rose in 2017, compared to 2016. Reports say that approximately 85,183 migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, which is a 20 percent increase than last year, which saw 71,279 making border crossings. The ministry predicts that this number will rise during the summer, when larger waves of migrants are expected to make the journey. The problem here is that most of the immigrants from Bangladesh, Nigeria and Guinea are economic migrants, so there is zero to slight chance that Italy will grant them asylum. On the other hand, the European Commission has budgeted 92 million dollars to manage the migration crisis with more than 50 percent of the budget going towards security improvements near the Libyan seacoast, while the rest will be spent by Italy, in case the migrant situation by the coast deteriorates.
Croatia on the other hand is struggling with the EU Court of Justice, which accused the country of breaking the EU Dublin regulation passed between 2015 and 2016. The EU Dublin regulation states that the first EU member state a migrant steps in is obliged to identify and process their asylum request, and if approved, grant their asylum request. Slovenia and Austria accused Croatia of allowing migrants to travel to their countries without examining migrants’ asylum claims. Austrian lawyer Clemens Lahner told the BBC that hundreds of asylum seekers would be affected by this decision. Migrants who were rejected in Austria and Slovenia will not able to seek asylum in Croatia. For many people who are in Croatia, hopes of getting asylum are diminished because Austria and Slovenia will not take them back.
In Serbia, which is not an EU member state yet, Aleksandar Vulin (Minister of Defence) has been re-elected as the president of a migration working group that focuses on developing solutions about the refugee crisis and courses of migrations. He stated that Serbia managed to deflect 20,167 migrants, mostly from Macedonia (10,220), Bulgaria (9,801) and Montenegro (146). Minister Vulin pointed out that thanks to Serbia’s army and police forces, the country managed to “secure” its border from a massive incoming wave of immigrants.