Syrian Refugee Crisis
This paper deals with the ongoing inflow of Syrian emigrants to Europe. The scopes of the issue have achieved unpredicted volume and countries of the European Union (UN) are not able to deal with it. There are several causes for people to leave their homeland, and to go and seek for happiness abroad. However, despite the UN can and does understand these motives, they are not able to settle on a strong political decision that will help to solve the situation.
Syrian Refugee Crisis
The crisis of the influx of refugees in Europe in 2015 reached unprecedented sizes since the Second World War (Balsari, Abisaab, Hamill, & Leaning, 2015). According to the United Nations (UN), since the start of the year about 330 thousand emigrants crossed borders of the EU on sea and land, mostly coming from the Middle East and Africa. Despite the fact that the war in Syria has been going on for four years, a sharp inflow of evacuees from Syria began in 2015 (“What you need to know”, 2015). Therefore, the question of why the crisis became uncontrolled exactly in this year stays open. There are several reasons for such a crisis in Europe, the main one being the ongoing military activity on the African continent, which forces people to search for better living conditions and support in Europe, no matter what happens. This goes on regardless of the inability of the European authorities to arrive at a consensus regarding this topic.
Most of the literature on this subject concentrates on the political aspect of the issue. Overall, scholars highlight the unwillingness of the majority of European countries to help the displaced people. Additionally, the authors caution the ineptitude of the UN countries to find a common denominator, which only worsens the situation. Riley Townsend (2014) describe the situation from the Turkish viewpoint, who dealt with the Syrian influx for four years now so as to assist the UN nations in dealing with this growing problem However, it can be looked at from another perspectives, the ones that the Turkish experience has not taken into account.
Additionally, the critics mainly write about the absence of a consolidated political decision and stance, as well as the refusal of Eastern European countries to house Syrians. No consensus can be reached with respect to the changes of the legislation. Ahmet İçduygu (2015) concentrates on humanitarian refugee problems that he believes arise due to the inability of the European Union officials to reach any decisions. Rita Giacaman (2015), in turn, shows the mindset of the Gulf countries, their rationale, and the same sort of political incompetence when it comes to aiding the neighbors.
First, military action does not seem to be stalling in the nearest future, forcing many Syrians to flee abroad, for example, to a neighboring Turkey, which has already adopted around 2 million Syrian exiles within the period from 2011 to 2015. However, Turkish legal system limits the rights of foreigners to work officially. Additionally, the state leaders, in particular, the moderate-conservative Justice and Development Party, who stood for assistance to refugees and migrants, lost the latest election race, held in June. Therefore, the contemporary parliamentary majority led many Syrians remain anxious about their possible future life in Turkey due to the change of the main political power (Betts & Collier, 2015).
Thirdly, the UN agencies and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who have been working with millions of refugees all along in accepting countries, such as Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, began to experience the lack of funds and the material base. Subsequently, the living conditions in numerous refugee camps in the countries stated above have become much worse, sometimes even horrible (Giacaman, 2015). The most recent and outstanding example with respect to financial difficulties of emigrant-assisting agencies is that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees requested additional $21 million, enabling countries who experience the evacuees’ influx assist migrants and withstand the flow – mainly Italy, Hungary, and Bosnia. However, they managed to collect only $1 million 890 thousand, which is less than 9% of the requested sum (Balsari et al., 2015).
Talking further, the second reason for such huge inflow of exiles is the ability of migrants to find or save the needed sum of money to cross the border of UN, in particular – Greece. As it is known, Greece has become the initial point for refugees to continue a journey inland Europe. Usually, their final destination is Germany (“Syrian refugees,” 2013). It was a surprise that people were capable of paying around $3,000 per person to get to Germany. Nowadays, refugees have familiarized themselves with the new route to Europe – through the Balkans, which was tested for the first time in the summer of 2014 (Betts & Collier, 2015). First, it was transitioned by the word of mouth, and then a specially created group on “Facebook” has taught thousands of Syrians where it is possible and safe to cross the border (“Syrian refugees,” 2013).
Additionally, the UN states are still not able to decide on what and how to ease and handle the issue regarding the refugees’ inflow. Obviously, this does not aid in simplification of the overall situation. Misunderstandings redouble by the fact that a major democratic solution to the problem – to distribute the migrants proportionally to the population of every UN country – is not approved and agreed on by some member states, especially being the “newcomers” to the UN. Moreover, these United Nations members perceive this idea with a mild level of hostility (Balsari et al., 2015).
Despite the fact that the countries of the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) have established and support a variety of charitable organizations and individual donations to support the refugees and the sum reached a total of $900 million, the doors are still pretty much closed to them (Betts & Collier, 2015). This is primarily because of fears for their own political stability and national identity, along with the existing economic problems in the abovementioned countries. With the proliferation of the Syrian’s internal conflict, they began to track them with respect to how they come – with a tourist or working visa, being afraid of the incursion of people loyal to Bashar al-Assad and ready to take revenge on their “enemies” (Giacaman, 2015).
In addition, in some regions of the Persian Gulf such as the UAE and Qatar, the indigenous population is only slightly more than 10% of the one living in the country, while the rest come to work (Giacaman, 2015). A foreigner is provided with a temporary residence permit only if he/she or his/her spouse are full-time employed, but it is stipulated at the same time that once the working contract expires, the migrant needs to return home. Even the outcome of the Palestinians in 1948 did not pose such a demographic threat to the population of Persia, which now potentially is represented by the Syrian workers (Giacaman, 2015).
What Was the Reaction of Other European States?
French President Francois Hollande said that France is ready to take 24 thousand refugees in the next two years. Austria stated that it will not limit the number of intake of migrants into the country (“What you need to know,” 2015). However, the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann persisted that the aid, allocated to refugees, cannot be infinite, and promised to eliminate the special procedure of crossing the border, through which thousands of migrants were able to get into the region from Hungary.
On the contrary, Hungary did not show the tolerance and readiness to help and aid Syrian people. Instead, the country’s government ordered to build a security barrier with barbed wire along the border with Serbia (Serbia is the intermediate bridge for Syrians to get into Europe). Furthermore, the parliaments created a draft for changes in the legal system – the reform at hand aims to introduce more strict security measures regarding the control of the migrants’ influx. The law goes as far as introducing a three-years-long imprisonment for individuals who attempt to get into the country through the fence that was mentioned above (“What you need to know,” 2015). The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly expressed criticism towards the immigration policy of the United Nations, emphasizing that migrants who try to get to Germany go there not because of the war in their homeland, but solely in search of the German way of life (Balsari et al., 2015).
Speaking of the relatively new UN members located mainly in the Eastern Europe, they are very skeptical with regards the idea of the even distribution of the Syria emigrants. They are new to the political and economic system of the UN, and it is clear that they expected some economic benefits of entering into the Union. Therefore, logically, such countries do not want to spend additional large sums of money on hosting thousands of Syrians. This is especially true for countries such as Poland, where the cultural and, most importantly, religious life play one of the vital roles in harmony of the whole nation (Balsari et al., 2015).
Other Eastern European states such as Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, joined Poland and signed a joint statement refusing the idea of an even resettlement of migrants between all EU Member States, and stood up for the preservation of the voluntary nature of solidarity measures within the European Union (Balsari et al., 2015; “What you need to know,” 2015; “Syrian refugees,” 2013).
Summing up, one can say that the Syrian refugees’ crisis arose due of the ongoing military conflict on the territory of Syria and an inability of NGO and UN agencies to provide refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Syria with the appropriate help. However, the crisis has become inevitable and reached an unpredictable scale because of the absence of a solid and consolidated decision-making mechanism and strategy on what has to be done. Consequently, such situation only increases tension and misunderstandings between the UN countries, making the crisis even more severe.