“What has my country ever done for me?” That is the phrase that you can hear from time to time when people talk about tax increases or political corruption. People are leading a hard life of their own, busy with work. However, the government still, asks for more from them, such as taxes, but life does not seem to get better and the new policies do not seem to do anything directly to improve your life. That is why people say such things. However, one should remember that basic human rights and survival, along with protection, are being provided by the government. This may seem obvious and natural, but to some, getting these basic rights to live can be an earnest wish. This article will discuss the people that want to be affiliated to a new country and enjoy the basic rights that a country can provide. Let’s find out about these people, who can be referred to as refugees, who go on a long and hard journey to find a new place to live.
1. What Is A Refugee?
A “refugee”, according to UN’s Geneva Convention on refugees, is a person who is outside their home country of citizenship because they have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership to a particular social group. A refugee is unable to obtain sanctuary in their home country or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country. However, even before the UN stated the clear definition of what a refugee is, there were always people who have been forced to run from their country to find a new home. Mostly, people run away because of war, unbearable economic situations or environmental reasons. The most representative of these might be World War II where there were about 40 million refugees. This mighty record of 40 million refugees was broken in September with an estimated number of 50 million. It is said that if the refuges in the world got together to form a country it would be the 29th most populous country, and would be about the size of South Korea. So where are all of the refugees coming from?
The Syrian refugee crisis arguably reached its peak in terms of getting the world’s attention through the picture of a dead three year old named Aylan Kurdi, who was lying face down on a sandy beach in Turkey, swept to shore by the cold sea waters. The boy and his family were crossing across the sea to get to Turkey, seeking shelter from their home country of Syria, which is currently in the midst of civil war a facing occupation by the IS. During this journey across the sea, the child and his family met strong winds which shook their little boat so much that all but the father fell off the boat. This tragic incident made the whole world cry. What is more saddening is that this sort of tragedy is only but one of many tragedies that have happened to the Syrian refugees.
The civil war in Syria that has been raging since 2011 is driving citizens out from the country due to the inhumane acts by the government and the rebel forces. People are being killed, tortured, and sometimes even eaten for the sake of the goals they pursue. Later the IS started to intervene in the war and the lives of the ordinary citizens of Syria just kept getting worse and worse. It is definite that Syria is no longer a place for normal citizens to reside in. The refugees mostly go to Europe or other Islamic countries seeking safe shelter from the war. However, during this trip across many diverse countries a lot of tragedies happen and refugees die, having their boats overturned by waves and some suffocating in containers of cargo trucks due to a lack of air. To make matters worse, there are organizations that target these refugees as a source of money and smuggle them to Europe and other countries for huge sums of money. The results of the organizations are as above, people suffocating in trucks and dying on their way to a country that can provide shelter. In other words, they are making money out of human lives.
- The Rohingyas.
In the case of the Rohingya clan, they are being denied the citizenship of Myanmar, in which they reside. The people of Myanmar usually believe in Buddhism and as such, their power is really strong. However, the Rohingyas are Muslims, and this has aroused many conflicts between the Myanmar population and the Rohingya clan. When the conflict became too severe, the government opened a detention camp for the Rohingyas in order to separate them from normal society. This camp reeks of trash and they are still denied the citizenship of the country. They cannot use public facilities such as schools or hospitals and even have a restriction on whom they can marry and how many children they can have. The environment that they are living in is so bad that a UN worker in the department of humanitarianism said that there is nobody leading a harder life than them. These people are therefore trying to escape from the country and flee to nearby countries such as Bangladesh by paying illegal organizations, but they are sometimes imprisoned and even tortured and raped until they receive the money that they asked for.
- Other Refugees
Other than Syria there are still a lot of countries that have been torn apart by war. Iran and Sudan are perhaps the most representative of which and a lot of refugees also come from these countries. The number of dead refugees from the Middle East Asia and Africa nearly add up to 1800. However, the survivors are not always faced with a happy ending because some European countries are denying access to the refugees so they fail to find the shelter they want.
2. Europe and Islamic Countries
- Europe: The Dilemma of Whether to Take or Not
Why is Europe so uncomfortable in taking in refugees? In the case of Germany, as the birth rates decline and the working population along with it declines, they welcome the refugees as the solution for this problem. This embracing attitude toward refugees has had a huge effect and nearly million or more refugees have been flowing into Germany. As such, the country has officially stated that they will not take any more refugees and will go over their policies about refugees once more and create camps for them. There were also many protests from inside the country, their argument being that taking in refugees is not good for the country, so Germany it seems, is going to change its attitude toward accepting refugees. Other countries such as the United Kingdom are also facing the same problem of a decreasing working population. However, they took a more negative position toward the accepting refugees, even though accepting them could be a solution for such problems.
Why is that so? The reason they took such passive stance in accepting the refugees is probably due to 3 main reasons. First, governments cannot always distinguish real refugees or asylum seekers from the illegal immigrants and potential terrorists that are trying to sneak in to the country along with the refugees. There is no one who does not feel pity for the people that are dying out at sea because their home country has been torn apart. However, if they accept everybody that claims themself to be a refugee, then it increases the risk that terrorists will also sneak in and threaten the country. For example, there was an incident where a teenage girl killed her mother from the influence of an Iranian man who lived in the refugee camps. The girl met him continuously and the girl was so absorbed by the political and religious views of the man, that she stabbed her mother over 20 times and was watching videos of IS until the police came and arrested her. As such there are too much potential dangers to just accept all the refugees.
There are also economic reasons. It can be said that parts of the EU is in a critical state. Starting from the economic troubles of Greece, the EU is having trouble dealing with economic issues. The United Kingdom has already stated that they will withdraw from the EU and will officially decide in 2017. In such a situation of uncertainty, Europe is in no state to receive and care for the millions of refugees that are swarming in to Europe.
The last reason is in the attitude of the refugees. Some western countries have been criticizing the Syrian citizens for the run-away attitude that they are showing. They often take the example of Korea. Korea, after the Japanese colonial era, was torn apart by the 6.25 war between the North and the South. During the war major countries such as Russia, China and the U.S were involved and Korea was in ruins and could be called a living hell. Then the dictatorship era took over Korea. However, even during this time of chaos and hardship, the citizens got together and fought for democracy and their freedom, even if they were overrun by tanks or shot dead by the military. These attitudes and actions are what the Western countries want to see in Syrian citizens, but all they are doing is fleeing. This is also why the countries are so critical of them.
All in all, the problem with the European refugee crisis is that only very few get to stay in the country that they sought out while most have to continue to live the hard life they are living as refugees. Some go to Europe to receive shelter and protection, but many are dying in the streets from hunger or drowning in the seas. Some areas of Europe are denying refugees from entering and are just watching the people die in sea or even just leaving people just to float around at sea who have already run out of food and are drinking their own urine. These situations are inhumane and terrifying. However, it is also true that Europe alone cannot be the liferaft for all of the refugees and save them from the hardships they are going through. The Europe refugee crisis is a heart aching and sad problem indeed.
The refugees did not only go to Europe seeking for shelter. They also fled to their neighboring countries. In the case of Turkey, a crowd of a million refugees came and a lot also gathered in Jordan and Lebanon. The number of refugees in these three countries now adds up to nearly 3 million. However, Turkey, out of the fear that the zealously religious people of Syria could create another type of organization like the IS, stopped the influx of refugees and are not taking any more. This is one of the reasons why so many refugees ran away to Europe. These countries like Europe are now faced with the dilemma of whether to accept the huge amounts of refugees or not. Some of them, about 200 thousand, even went to war torn Iraq for protection, which shows how desperate the people of Syria are. However, the countries which are facing real problems are the smaller countries such and Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain where the number of refugees might overrun the number of local residents if they were all accepted. Therefore, these countries are desperately maintaining their borders and keeping the refugees out. As such, Middle Eastern countries are suffering as much as the European countries. The locals are now making complaints that the refugees are taking their jobs. The most representative example would be the bakery incident where a baker complained that the refugees are illegally selling bread at cheap prices which are putting the nearby bakery shops out of business. The baker claimed that it is not fair that the refugees get to sell products without tax and qualifications while the locals have to. Also there are people who are using the refugees as cheap labor and even making the children do labor at cheap prices. Incidents where refugees sell their daughters to unmarried citizens to get citizenship is also happening and there are more and more problems that are arising.
It is sure that the world cannot just sit and watch this refugee crisis. People are dying out there from starvation and to leave them be would be the same as watching murder happen without doing anything about it. Still, Europe and nearby countries cannot all accept them either. There is also the problem of how to deal with these refugees once Syria has calmed down again. Should they be sent back to their own country? Or should they be allowed to stay? How will this problem with no clear answer be solved?
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