Thursday, March 02, 2017

Migrant Blues

Making a home in a new land is challenging even for those who move by choice and with plentiful resources. To become an asylum seeker in Europe is to have overcome adversity. First, to have survived the dangers in your homeland and found a means of escape. Then to have survived the journey and reached your destination.

Only this week, Unicef warned that women and children were being raped, beaten and starved in Libyan detention centres. Last year, more than 5,000 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean, and Balkan countries shut their borders, blocking many who had hoped to reach northern Europe. To have your claim recognised, and to become a refugee, is harder still.

It means negotiating a complicated, alien and unforgiving system which often gets it wrong; around 30% of refusals in Britain are overturned in the courts.

Europe is afraid of more immigration. It is only logical that countries that could prevent the steady flow of people to Europe would use this to further their own interests.

Morocco is trying to do this, as is Turkey. Even the West African country Niger has long understood that its level of cooperation on migration matters can be used as a tool to gain political and financial capital. This principle behind this is: If I keep the migrants off your turf, you will comply with my political demands - be it money, concessions, or the label "safe country of origin."

And this is our, Europe's, contribution to the fact that migration and migrants have become political currency. This especially endangers our much quoted European values: The more we push aside, buy or negotiate ourselves out of the migration problem, the more hollow our constantly proclaimed values and standards of openness, equal opportunity and the inviolability of human rights become.

Europe is afraid of more immigration. It is only logical that countries that could prevent the steady flow of people to Europe would use this to further their own interests.

Morocco is trying to do this, as is Turkey. Even the West African country Niger has long understood that its level of cooperation on migration matters can be used as a tool to gain political and financial capital. This principle behind this is: If I keep the migrants off your turf, you will comply with my political demands - be it money, concessions, or the label "safe country of origin."


And this is our, Europe's, contribution to the fact that migration and migrants have become political currency. This especially endangers our much quoted European values: The more we push aside, buy or negotiate ourselves out of the migration problem, the more hollow our constantly proclaimed values and standards of openness, equal opportunity and the inviolability of human rights become.

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