The wrong kind of refugees

Recent events in Europe have brought the crisis in far-off Syria to the door of Europe, and focused attention on this war like never before. Suddenly, it is not just someone else’s problem. Europe has to deal with it, and they don’t like it.

Many of the countries involved seemed to have conveniently forgotten their own recent histories. When Hungarians fled their country after the 1956 uprising, they were welcomed all over the world. Many went on to live good lives in the countries that took them in, finding respect for their opinions, a voice for their protests, alongside shelter and work too.

When the Balkan wars erupted many years later, humanitarian aid and genuine sympathy and concern provided assistance, shelter, and in some cases, new homes for those displaced or persecuted. Nobody asked about religion, ethnic origins, or whether or not those refugees were considered to be criminals in their countries of origin. They housed them, fed them, and tried to do the best to help them, as is right, in a civilised society.

So what of the current refugees, fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq, or fundamentalism in Afghanistan? They are treated like potential terrorists; fifth columnists, sent to destablise the west. They are fingerprinted, interrogated, and denied access to aid in some cases. They are kept out with razor wire, blasted with water cannons and pepper spray, or herded into overcrowded trains, that then take them somewhere they do not want to go.

Germany has done its best, taking a huge share of the number of people arriving in the EU. But what of other countries in the world? Where are North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand, for example? I hear no outcry to welcome them in these countries; often richer, larger, and better placed to deal with an influx of more people. It is seen as a European problem, and I am at a loss to understand why. I have no doubt, that if these people were Russian, North Korean, Cuban, or Chinese, asking to be given sanctuary from Communism, the doors to these other countries would open wide to them.

Perhaps it is because most of the refugees are Muslims. Maybe it is because they are fleeing war, not Communism. They are just the wrong kind of refugees, through no fault of their own.

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6 comments

  1. Eddy Winko

    An interesting subject, especially as I follow it from a English and Polish media perspective. The think the proposed idea of quotas is the best option for Europe, I even said to Gosia it would be the solution long before it was touted. My theory been that if a refugee was offered asylum in a random EU state then many may not seek asylum in the first place, after all it seems that many want Germany or nothing, the prospect of Hungry, Romania or Poland for that matter may stem their enthusiasm. It has to be said though that the ex-eastern block countries tend to be insular and xenophobic, so it was a brave Polish prime minister that asked people to think what they would expect from the rest of Europe if Russia decided to push further on from Ukraine? Especially with an election coming up! I believe Poland is due to take in around 12,000, although they are keen to insist that it should not be about numbers, it’s about people, given Polands past I would have to agree.
    I know there is a scheme that the UN run that sends refugees (from camps) all over the world and Australia is on the list of countries that takes 10s of thousands in, although I have no idea of exact numbers, I also seem to remember that the US have upped the numbers they will accept.
    Of course the true solution is peace in Syria, or the world for that matter, fat chance!

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    • beetleypete

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment Eddy. I also understand that the USA have agreed to take 10,000, though I have heard nothing about Australia and New Zealand so far. Cameron has raised an interesting point, by agreeing to take 20,000 at a rate of 4,000 a year, for five years. However, he insists that he will only take them from official UN camps already established in countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which has confused the issue even further.

      I watched some refugees being interviewed, and they were asked why they only want to go to Germany, Austria, or the UK. They all cited language as the reason, as they could already speak English or German, or had connections with existing communities in those countries. Some also believed that East European countries like Hungary and Slovenia were racist, and anti-Muslim.
      The western intervention in Syria seems to be coming home to roost, in ways that were probably never imagined.

      Best wishes to you three as always, Pete.

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      • Eddy Winko

        UNHCR, that’s the way it’s normally done Cameron is simply following the procedure that is already in place. As ever the media tell us what they want and no doubt are part of the problem. I don’t think it’s a secret that the refugees that are taking the trip north are the middle classes of Syria, they have the money to try and escape the horror of war and indeed the conditions of UN refugees camps in Turkey and the like. I know I would do the same in their situation if I had the means. But I don’t think that it should be a right to go to your country of choice, just a safe one. I know that part of the resettlement program includes 12 months of language classes, be it German, Italian or Polish!
        I think you ae right about the racism in Eastern Europe, but I think it’s born out of ignorance, rather than hatred, only integration and time will solve that. Lets just hope it’s done better than it was in the UK many years ago, I’m shocked at how racist my homeland has become.

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      • beetleypete

        The UK has lurched uncomfortably to the Right, Eddy. Xenophobia is the order of the day, fuelled by the press, and the likes of UKIP. I agree that a place of safety should be sufficient, and not a place of choice. Otherwise, we would all live in the south of France, Tuscany, or southern California! By insisting on comfortable locations, the refugees make themselves look too choosy and demanding.
        Cheers old bean. Pete.

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  2. loaper73

    Perhaps it’s because we have a President that won’t acknowledge the evil inside the Muslim world. Half the Americans (with their noses up Obama’s backside) wonder what these people are running from. It’s also likely that because we already have 5 or 6 million peope here illegally and another 2 or 3 million refugees of many origins we just can’t care anymore. Where is North America? We’ve been there, done that and are still doing it.

    At some point no doubt the rest of world will once again turn to the US over this latest fiasco and try to say we need to do our share. Our only response should be “welcome to our world…time to suck it up and take care of something (finally) yourselves. We cannot protect and subsidize the whole world forever”.

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