Previous Story: Unwelcome Guests
"His Australian wardens tell him that by landing here illegally, he has tried to jump the queue. Really?"
"If things were okay in their home countries, would millions of refugees be queuing up to come to Australia? Or to Europe, for that matter?"
"Leaving most of everything they have built in life, behind. I think not!”
"The problem is complicated," Rosh clarified, "because under International Law, the term 'refugee' applies only to those people who have been forcibly displaced."
"It does not include people who have been forced to flee due to wars, famine, natural disasters, climate change or extreme poverty etc."
"People who are internally displaced within their home countries get excluded too. So, millions of genuinely suffering people get trapped in legalese and are classed as illegals. This means they can't access refugee status or get other forms of protection."
“Host countries may be well within their rights to close borders or to deport illegal entrants," said Josh, "but what of the human cost? What of humanity? Of being human? And being humane?”
“Would people like Najaf survive if they were deported back to Afghanistan, where Taliban previously tortured them and tried to kill them? Would people fleeing the Syrian civil war survive if all neighboring borders were closed to them.”
“Before allowing refugees to stay," Isha tried to placate the passionately pleading boy, "their hosts must decide whether they’ll be able to fit in, or whether they’ll end up making or inviting more trouble here. It is neither an easy, nor a quick decision.”
“In the interim, refugees are usually treated with suspicion rather than compassion. Even when a refugee is allowed to stay, both sides need to do much to make their relationship work long-term.”
“Then there are economic reasons. For example, Hungary recently said that it had insufficient resources to manage its own population, let alone support tens of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing in from the Middle East.”
“Yet it found the money to erect razor-sharp barbed wires across its border,” Josh was unconvinced, “to stop unwanted guests from crossing over. These were people fleeing death, not coming over for a holiday.”
“What happens when you cut off the escape routes of someone who is being hounded by death. You sure as hell ensure that they get killed.”
“It wasn’t just Hungary,” Isha countered. “Many other European Governments dragged their feet on the Syrian Refugee crisis. It is for reasons like these, that most countries view refugees as a problem.”
“Yet there are countries like Germany,” argued Josh, “who viewed this very same problem as an opportunity, not only to help the needy but also to help themselves.”
“It all depends on your perspective really. You can look at an issue, label it a problem, and try to escape. Or you can look at it and see an opportunity to find a solution for all concerned and make the world a better place.”
“Like most of the rest of Europe,” Rosh sided with Josh, “Germany has an aging population. Yet Germans are living longer, thanks to better medical facilities. Worldwide, more than a billion people will be 65 or older by the year 2030."
"Within a couple of decades, Germany will have an immense pension payments and healthcare benefits problem because of lesser people working and more people needing benefits.”
“On a comparative scale, that would be like New Zealand accepting 46,000 asylum-seekers this year. We only accept about 700 yearly, and that number hasn't changed for nearly 30 years.”
“John Key slightly upped the NZ quota this year,” Isha advised. “Some were moaning already that he's feeding ostracized unwelcome foreigners at the cost of services which the locals deserved.”
"Instead of moaning," Josh retorted, "we should be getting involved more. Volunteering with Red Cross, English Language Partners or various other organizations to help resettle refugees who come to our shores."
"We should be hiring them in jobs. Getting to know them at our schools, workplaces and in communities. Successful settlement is not going to happen unless we welcome them among us as equals. We should be helping them assimilate in our social fabric."
"Bad things can happen even to good people. Instead of feeling shortchanged, we should be donating our time, expertise and resources to help our fellow human beings. Together, we can make a difference."
“Perhaps Germans understood more than others,” said Hosh, “that refugees generally work harder and are not out to make mischief because they desperately want to rebuild their life. They are after all, people who have lost everything."
“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” said Josh, “there are approximately around 60 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their homes."
"If we lived in a world without wars, be they religious, financial or political, there would be no refugees. But we don’t. We fight!”
“If we lived in a world without national borders, national identities, national prejudices, there would still be no refugees. But we don’t.”
“Since we will have wars and national boundaries, we will have refugees. When the scale of tragedies is great, we will have refugee crisis. There were many days over the last several months, when more than 10,000 forced migrants crossed over daily into Europe.”
“The European idea of a passport-free Schengen zone,” said Hosh, "might help create a more open world. I like it. I think it is very novel and interesting. Germany has already shown that it can bring down separating walls and currencies. Without war!”
“At least no Alan Kurdi would die then,” Rosh sighed, “that three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea as his family was trying to get out of Turkey for the third time.”
“But I suspect that as humans we are programmed to cherish our national identities and will continue to fight with each other on our various fetishes.”
“The next best solution for addressing the refugee problem then,” said Josh, “is to support them near ground zero. So refugees don’t have to go too far to get relief. That way, at least the risks of long journeys to safer havens in despicable travelling conditions would be reduced."
"Alan's family was trying to go to Canada. Najaf fled from Afghanistan to Australia, the other side of the world. While tragic, surely the journey would have been cheaper and safer for the millions who fled from Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan."
“Since 2011, more than 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the war began. According to the UN’s refugee agency, almost 1.8 million went into neighboring Turkey, more than 600,000 into Jordan and 1 million to Lebanon – a country whose population is just 4 million.”
“Refugees may be the immediate problem of neighboring countries, but we live in a world much more connected now than it was ever before.”
“If countries deluged by refugees can’t handle the influx, they’ll be more inclined to close borders. That will only aggravate the refugee crisis and escalate the human and financial costs.”
“If countries far removed from ground zero helped too with donations of money, food, clothes, medicines, or volunteers, host countries would feel less inundated and might become more willing managers of this problem.”
“Germany showed exemplary generosity in this too, leading the European Union into pledging billions of euros to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, its World Food Program and other agencies.”
“It also recently increased funding for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries. Countries like Hungary resisted having to contribute, as they already had massive debts.”
“But they eventually came aboard as part of a broader push to ease factors driving Syrians to risk sailing to Europe. Hope EU stays united to tackle this. Lives of many depend on it.”
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