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Friday, September 11, 2015

Europe's migrant crisis- My notes

Sitting in Copenhagen, I am closely watching the unprecedented migrant crisis unfolding in Europe. What began in Southern Europe few weeks ago has now reached northern tip all the way till Denmark, with Denmark-Germany railway and road connections getting suspended earlier this week [Details]. There is an international pressure on European countries to accept large number of refugees on humanitarian grounds. EU is talking about a mandatory quota which some countries are not comfortable with. I am sharing few of my observations on this topic.
Representative image- EU member country flags at Mini Europe, Brussels

1. It is very natural that people move from unfavorable place to more favorable place. So we can't blame the refugees for fleeing their homes and seeking a life in EU.

2. It isn't like Europe was prosperous all the time. Between 1880-1920, because of war, colonialism etc large number of Europeans had migrated to America in hope of better life. They had to undergo scrutiny at Ellis Island near Statue of Liberty, NY. Those who qualified certain criteria were given entry into USA while others were sent back. Now that Europe is generally prosperous, may be it is time to give it back.

3. Need to note that migrants have their eyes set on some of the richest European countries like Germany. They don't want to go to any country- say a relatively poorer country like Estonia or Lithuania and help it develop. They are clashing with police refusing to register in certain countries or refusing to follow other instructions. In my opinion those who are fighting to go settle in wealthiest of the countries should be sent to poorest of EU countries.

4. There is not much time left. In a month or two, winter will kick in. Unless these migrants can find proper shelter with heating facilities, they may not survive harsh European winters. So both migrants and EU leaders have very limited time to take decisions and act.

5. Many are of the opinion that this problem should be solved in the route. Destroy those causing the poor to flee their homes. Eliminate the evil forces, restore normalcy so that Syrians or others don't have to flee and return to their home land. I sort of agree with that.

6. Accommodating large number of migrants on a permanent basis is not an easy decision to make. It means sharing country's resources- water, electricity, employment opportunities, infrastructure everything with migrants on a permanent basis. This will but lots of stress on host countries budgets and other administrative machinery. Migrants first need shelter and food, then they will need jobs, healthcare, facilities for religious practices and eventually citizenship and voting rights. If they can't land job (or when they're not willing do undertake any hard work job) some will find it convenient to make money through other means like robbery, theft.

7. Most of Europe relies on high level of automation and a culture in which people behave and operate in a highly responsible way. For example, in many European cities, tickets are hardly checked in public transportation. If you've decided not to buy a ticket, still you might manage to get in and get out undetected. But travelers voluntarily buy tickets and check in/check out. Checking by officials happens only rarely. This system works because no one really intends to cheat the system and if they're caught they know they will be fined heavily. Similarly there're very specific guidelines to follow while disposing waste- segregating in specific ways and discarding them in specific bins. People follow queue system voluntarily and respect reach other. Forget the migrants- even for people from developing countries, it takes some learning period and considerable cultural shift to get used to the highly sophisticated European way of life. Those who seek asylum and wish to settle in are expected to learn these things and follow them voluntarily. If lakhs of people start abusing the system then lots of law enforcement effort will be needed to reinforce order and in the process, even regular citizens who would have followed all rules will have to undergo various inconveniences. These things matter because migrants are not in hundreds or thousands, but in millions. There're already reports of them resorting to violence and damaging property for various reasons they believe unfair to them. [Read this news for more]

8. Most EU countries are under schengen agreement which allows document free movement across 25+ countries. This is a big privilege for citizens and visitors of Europe. This works fine when number of people is less and they visit other countries mainly for work/leisure, not really to relocate. If this liberty gets abused then each country will be forced to take extra measures to protect its borders and socio-economic interests. That would mean strict border controls, passport checks etc eventually nullifying advantage of border free movement.

9. There's no guarantee that nothing will change over time. If God so wishes, couple of events can turn a wealthy nation into bankrupt economy or vice versa. Geological events can make or brake landscapes and cities. When we're in a position to give something we should give it away. When we're in a helpless state, someone else may help us. So "I am rich and wealthy, I want to remain that way by ignoring all less privileged people around me" is NOT a good idea.

10. While many are totally helpless people who have lost everything, few are simply economic migrants or opportunist people. They could have lived in their own countries, but want to be part of Europe for possibility of better lifestyle. Governments are having tough time distinguishing the two.

11. Many of the migrants are healthy young males- their government back home want to enroll them into military to fight anti national forces- but these guys don't want to kill or get killed. Can't say that is right or wrong, just stating the fact.

12. There's a debate going on in Baltic states if Burqa should be banned- as they have an open culture and burqa also brings a security threat (it can be used to conceal face from CCTV etc- difficult to identify a culprit)- need to see what conclusion these debates arrive at

13. Many rich Muslim countries in middle east are not taking in displaced people. They are happy to donate money to build mosques in Europe though.

Thus there're lots of factors- more than what meets the eye. Yes, it is important to accommodate lesser privileged migrants in best possible way, migrants on their part should respect local culture, way of living, the law enforcement and accept what's offered to them, without resorting  to violence, vandalism etc. Let us hope for speedy resolution of this crisis.

10 comments :

Raveesh Kumar said...

Good Analysis Nidhi. But can you also list the reasons why people are fleeing from their own countries?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Raveesh

People fleeing Syria is another topic altogether. Do watch online videos by BBC/other channels- many people are caught between the fighting forces, their houses damaged and no essential supplies to sustain a living. So they are fleeing.

My Unfinished Life said...

Its quite a complicated situation..... and no one is totally right or wrong ..its all subjective...

My Unfinished Life said...

Its quite a complicated situation..... and no one is totally right or wrong ..its all subjective...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

MUL: Of course :)

Prasad Np said...

Not only the other rich gulf countries not willing to take the refugees, the migrants are also not willing to go there. Does it tell you something about the crisis ?

magiceye said...

Agree with all you stated. Germany seems to be the only nation that is doing its best to accommodate the refugees.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Deepak and Prasad

@Prasad: can you elaborate? Do you mean other rich middle east countries are not safe or people don't prefer them?

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

Agree with your points. The situation has become quite alarming..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes. Nothing much has been done in past week or so since I wrote it. It is only getting worse.