Table of Contents
The images of desperate refugees and immigrants seeking asylum in European countries appear daily on newspapers, the Internet, and other media (Goldenziel, 2016). The problem has actually shocked the world because currently the continent is facing its worst population movement crisis since the World War II. Regardless of this fact, little has been done to balance the situation. Policies change almost on a daily basis. People often cross the border and thousands are dying trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, while those saved are living in pathetic conditions where most end up dying of hunger, or waterborne and airborne diseases among other issues. International decree offers limited recourse for those fleeing desperate moments. The U.N. Convention is the main international treaty aimed to control the issues of human trafficking (Traub, 2016). However, this convention only pays little attention to such victims just mentioning that refugees should be treated humanely. The paper analyzes the perception of the issue of refugees in the world, the current issue that makes the immigration such a pressing problem, and finally, the recommendations which would help solve the concern.
Perception of the Issue of Refugee in the World
In December, approximately 1,008,616 people migrated from their country by sea to Europe (Traub, 2016). 84% of this number came from the war-plagued countries, with Syria producing from 49% to 21% from Afghanistan, and 9% from Iraq (Medecins Sans Frontiers, 2016). 17% of these numbers were women, and children under 18 years constituted 25 % of the above indices. MSN offered more than 100,000 health consultations to the immigrants during its search and salvage mission at the Mediterranean Sea in Italy, Greece in Balkans, and the western part of Europe. Despite the harsh conditions, such as the cold in winter, these groups of population still leave their country in search of asylum. For instance, between January and April 2016, more than 180,000 individuals have migrated to Europe (Traub, 2016). Regardless of the suffering that most of the immigrants encounter, the policies formulated by most the European countries are still inflicting more pain to refugees as they try hard to save themselves and their families. European countries are mandated to ensure that the policies formed to guarantee the right to seek asylum and respect the essential rights and human respect.
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Most of the smugglers are taking advantages of the lack of a safe alternative route to get into Europe risking their lives for smugglers’ enrichment (Traub, 2016). What most of the governments are doing is not helpful at all. For instance, the building of the fences at the external borders is putting the asylum seeker to the risk of surrendering themselves to the hands of smugglers and traveling the most dangerous routes of the sea that is characterized with the overcrowded leaky boats on the Mediterranean Sea (Traub, 2016). Cooperation deals of the EU members with Third-World countries have led to unacceptable humanitarian concerns which include increased levels of violence and persistent erosion of refugee and asylum statute. For example, the EU-Turkey deal brought as the solution to the present crisis is a dangerous approach, unless the tangible protection tactics put in place that will offer equal treatment, dignity, and security refugee will continue being exposed to these hazardous states they usually encounter (Pope, 2015).
There is no a one-size-fits-all approach to determining the cause and origin of migration and refugee crisis. The closure of the Balkan road together with the application of the EU/Turkey deal has caused a messy and inhuman state in Greece. After this deal, an estimated 46,000 people stay in Greece in inhuman conditions today. Some of these refugees are held in hotspot turned into expulsion hubs with decreased access to essential humanitarian assistance and with little access to legal information and support (Pope, 2015). Some refugees are left in camps with limited access to asylum process living in tents with unhygienic conditions.
In the reports from the White House, some pending applications by various asylum seekers are checked, and refugees are supposed to identify themselves by giving biodata, including names, places of birth, the day of birth, as well as addresses (Pope, 2015). The process of screening starts from biographic checks where immigrants are subject to thorough studying before entry to the USA to ensure no terrorist gets access to the country.
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Measures Applied by MSN to Help
MSN started working to help the asylum seekers at the Mediterranean Sea back in the year 2002 where it launched programs to offer medical, food, and shelter assistance to the people who fled to their countries (Traub, 2016).
In May 2015, MSN begun the search and rescue mission in this area, and by the end of last year, this initiative had saved a total of 20,129 people and helped about 3,000 people in the central Mediterranean area (Traub, 2016). Due to reduced number of arrivals in this region by December of the last year, MSN withdrew its mission. However, the organization has always been ready in case the EU and its members declare that they have failed to continue offering protection services to the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children expected to arrive in Europe from North Africa (Traub, 2016).
An excellent example of a situation currently causing emergency of a huge number of displacements is the conflict evident in Syria between the government of 'Bashar al-Assad' and other movements that begun in the year 2011 (Traub, 2016). Approximately 7.6 million people were displaced internally and about 3.7 Syrians had fled the country seeking for asylum since the start of the conflict (German Federal Ministry of the Interior, 2014; European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), 2015). The situation is dire, and Syria has inflicted enormous strain on the neighboring states. Such countries as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt offer a huge number of refugees’ asylum (Goldenziel, 2016). Syrians also seek protection beyond these states in ever growing numbers since 2011. Among overseas countries where a massive number of refugees apply for asylum, are the USA, Sweden, Germany and United Kingdom (UNHCR 2014d, 13).
The scope and prolonged nature of the Syrian war has led to a more difficult situation for both Syrian refugees and host states. Syrian refugees always face a hostile reception from individuals among the host communities (Goldenziel, 2016). They always tussle to secure essential amenities, such as food, housing, and safety.
In a country like Lebanon, Syrian refugees are experiencing an acute housing problem. There are no enough refugee camping centers as well as adequate, affordable housing (Goldenziel, 2016). A massive number of registered refugees from Syria were living in substandard accommodations, such as informal settlements, incomplete buildings, worksites, and garages. Destruction of informal immigrant settlements and house evictions had increased by the end of the last year, and as a result, most of the refugees could not meet their essential needs (Goldenziel, 2016).
The situation in Turkey is similarly horrible where estimated 84% registered Syrian refugees resided in urban, suburbs and in rural areas instead if living in official immigrant camps (ECHO, 2015). Two-thirds of those that lived outside camps were subject to the Jordanian absolute level of poverty for $96 per month. Again an estimated 46% of households outside the camping sites did not have a heating system and were in the poor sanitary state.
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In Turkey, the situation is not different. There is occasional tension between Syrian refugees and natives, especially in the major cities which blamed to ever elevating number of refugees (Goldenziel, 2016). Most of this population does not live in the government refugee camping sites, and instead, they live in full rental houses (Pope, 2015). Syrians living outside these camps do not benefit from various amenities offered in the in the camps. These essential benefits include proper housing, education and health care (Ostrand, 2015). They encounter abject poverty, poor sanitary and dreadful housing states.
In Egypt and Iraq, there is always emergence of skirmishes, and this factor has had adverse effects on refugees from Syria (Ostrand, 2015). In Egypt, despite the efforts of the government to offer refugees access to quality public healthcare facilities and education on an equal basis with Egyptians, the protection provided to Syrians has subsided over time due to the recent political instabilities.
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Another hurdle experienced by Syrians is deaths at the Mediterranean Sea as they attempt to cross the sea to reach Europe (Ostrand, 2015). The issue led to Italy offering to help where they launched Operation Mare Nostrum program. This program is termed as search-and-rescue operation. The project was initially successful as about 130, 000 individuals were rescued from the watery grave (Ostrand, 2015). However, Italy withdrew from this mission because this rescue mission attracted even more refugees to Mediterranean, and hence, more deaths.
Different states have had various degrees of responses regarding financial support, resettlement, and temporary caring of refugees (Ostrand, 2015). Mainly the United States, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom have an enormous contribution towards the well-being of Syrian refugees (Ostrand, 2015). Regarding financial support, both the United States and the United Kingdom are top donors in humanitarian help for the Syrian crisis. The US is by far the highest donor and has given about $2.9 billion between FY 2012 and 2014 (USAID 2014; US PRM 2014). On the other hand, the United Kingdom had given $790 million to help those suffering the consequences of the Syrian crisis (UK DFID 2015). About half of the funds was used to benefit both Syria and the host country. Germany and Sweden also provided $448 and $169 respectively to humanitarian aid in 2012 to 2014 (Ostrand, 2015).
Resettlement of refugees represents the international solidarity and responsibility sharing, thus providing international protection with opportunities to meet needs of vulnerable individuals whose life, freedom, security, health or other fundamental rights are in danger in the country where they sought asylum (Ostrand, 2015). Germany, the USA, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have agreed to admit more Syrian refugees. In March 2013, Germany launched an initiative for welcoming Syrian refugees, particularly from Lebanon. All refugees admitted through this initiative are given a two-year provisional residence permit which is subject to an extension of expiring (Ostrand, 2015). About 20,000 refugees are planned to benefit from this initiative. In the United States, on the other hand, the government has not specified particular number of Syrian immigrants it will admit (Ostrand, 2015). However, there is evidence that the US is planning to accept more than 105 refugees it realized in the year 2014. The United Kingdom has not also specified the figure of refugees it will resettle, but instead resettle, the authorities have launched an initiative to relocate vulnerable persons, especially those from Syria (Pope, 2015). This humanitarian protection will offer Syrians a five-year temporary residency. As far as these resettlement programs are concerned, there is the only reliable solution to relieve the burden from the countries hosting Syrian refugees (Ostrand, 2015). All these factors are making the issue of displacements such a pressing issue currently.
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Understanding of Refugee Issue
The present refugee crisis is not only a European problem but a worldwide concern. Every nation has an obligation to be involved in the separation of the ongoing crisis of immigration from the current internal catastrophe of the European project (Ostrand, 2015). The issue is because Europe has close links to the refugee predicament, yet the crisis does not originate from it (Ostrand, 2015). This distinction is crucial because the refugee catastrophe is a humanitarian task that must be jointly owned and cooperatively solved whether it involves legal frameworks organizational response or financing. It is only through collaboration, the adequate preparedness for and responses to future refugee flows that the challenges faced by the international community can be encountered (Ostrand, 2015).
The operations to save lives at the Mediterranean Sea should be increased and made more efficient. The current policies of handling passengers suspected to be used for purposes of human trafficking or smuggling have to be be balanced (Traub, 2016). Instead of returning these passengers back to places where they might be exposed to the danger of executions, torture, or inhuman and degrading, they need to be debarked at safe sites in the European Union territory.
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Crisis at European borders should be addressed as there is a fair and efficient asylum process as stated by EU laws (Medecins Sans Frontiers, 2016; Traub, 2016). Offering essential conditions for the people with special needs at the point of refugees’ reception is a must, especially due to that these groups include unaccompanied children, physically challenged, women, elderly and ill individuals (Ostrand, 2015). Emergency alertness and coordination and improving the capability of EU civil protection mechanism should also be improved (Ostrand, 2015).
European Union’s broken asylum system ought to be fixed. The concept has to include heightened support from the EU Asylum Support Office and European Refugee Fund to underachieving member countries (Ostrand, 2015). Dublin Decree needs to have a more equitable and permanent tool for identifying the associated state responsible for evaluating any given application for international protection (Medecins Sans Frontiers, 2016; Traub, 2016). The determination should involve rational principle that considers the ability of the participating states and, if possible, the will of the applicant. Harmless and legal routes into European Union territories should increase to help reduce the demand for smuggling and perilous journeys (Ostrand, 2015). The issue can be achieved through increased resettlement, expanded family reunification, and changing European Union visa code with a plan to creating a Schengen humanitarian visa.
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Finally, there should be extended Avenues for legal labor and educational migration. What should be understood is that not all people arriving on European coasts are asylum-seekers. Some come here seeking for enhanced economic and life prospects for themselves and their families (Ostrand, 2015). They are trying to escape bad governance, poverty, and corruption. As the EU Commission and its member states take forward proposals to evaluate the existing avenues for legal migration and drafting of new ones, it will be important to consider some options, such as employment visas for workers at whole-skill levels and student visas (Ostrand, 2015).