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The East African : Sep 12th 2015
24 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK SEPTEMBER 12-18,2015 28 EU states grope for answers as migrants continue to pour in A JOINT REPORT New York Times packed train arrived at the border town of Roszke from Budapest, the passengers smoothly shifting to a gleaming Austrian train on the opposite side of the platform and whisking on to Vienna and beyond — 13,000 of them in the first 36 hours after Hungary allowed throngs of refugees and migrants to travel toward Germany. But that is not the end. Thou- T sands of migrants continue to flow through the Balkans toward Hungary every day, rapidly approaching its southern border with Serbia, government officials said. Despite cheers of welcome in Germany, and tears of relief from weary migrants, it remained unclear how Europe would deal with successive waves of migrants, which humanitarian groups have assured are on the way, perhaps for months or even years, until the wars, poverty and other underlying causes of the dislocations have abated. Pope Francis called upon Catholic parishes and religious communities to take in the refugees. Meanwhile, Germany has called for a quota system to distribute the refugee population evenly throughout Europe. But the European Union re- mains deeply divided over what should be done with the refugees, a debate that has strained relations and threatened the hroughout the day Sunday, September 6, train after 28-nation bloc’s proud policy of open borders. Far-right politicians, mostly quiet so far, found their voice, with Marine Le Pen of France, the National Front leader, complaining that a widely circulated photograph of a drowned child refugee from Syria that had shocked the world was being used to make Europeans “feel guilty.” More discord A gathering of foreign minis- ters in Luxembourg on Sunday produced only more discord. Germany, which has admitted by far the largest number of migrants — it expects to accept 800,000 this year — has called upon other nations to accept more, but found much resistance, especially in Eastern Europe. “We have been facing this challenge for several months, and we continue to take in refugees,” said Peter Altmaier, chief of staff to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “But we need a readiness in other European countries to join in.” Human-rights groups say that for the foreseeable future, there is every reason to expect refugees from Syria and other “We continue to take in refugees. But we need other European countries to join in.” Peter Altmaier, chief of staff to the German chancellor countries in crisis to descend on Europe in ever greater numbers. In Syria alone, 11 million people have been displaced by war, 7 million within the country’s borders and 4 million outside, mostly to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. The number of Syrians re- questing asylum in Europe had risen steadily for years before attracting international attention, reaching an estimated 348,000 since April 2011, a month after the civil war there began. The numbers are accelerating as the war worsens — from 8,000 asylum claims in 2011 to 56,000 in 2013 and 150,000 in 2014, according to UN figures. Those numbers reflect only asylum claims, not the far greater flow of those claiming refugee status. Another factor in the in- crease is the discovery of routes through Turkey and Greece that are safer and often cheaper than the old route through Libya, which involved a perilous land trek and an equally dangerous ride across the Mediterranean Sea. Human-rights experts say that the combination of the new routes, an apparently welcoming Europe, deteriorating security in Syria and the higher socio-economic status of the recent refugees virtually ensures increases in the number of migrants. Hungary, on the front lines of the refugee crisis and led by an anti-immigrant prime minister and governing party, has sent mixed signals on its intentions. While allowing migrants in the Syrian refugees pass through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory. Picture: AFP More than half of those crossing the Mediterranean are fleeing the war in Syria Top 10 nationalities (in percent) Afghanistan Syria Nigeria Eritrea Bangladesh Gambia Sudan Somalia Iraq Others Senegal 100,000 120,000 140,000 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000 0 Source : UNHCR 8 4 3 2 2 1 1 1 13 Monthly Mediterranean arrivals 129,843 2014 2015 Arrivals per yer 14,458 Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July ugA Sept* Oct No Decv *So far this year/month country to head to the West, opened a new holding camp with space for 1,000 people — surrounded by razor wire and guarded by dogs and the police — in the southern border town 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 0 366,402 2 Spain 1,953 119,500 Malta 94 Greece 244,855 51% 14 Italy Refugees and migrants entering Europe: the latest figure Arrivals by country 2008 09 10 11 12 13 14 2015 59,000 of Roszke, and rights groups quickly assailed the camp as inhumane. Hungary is also building a ra- zor-wire fence along its 175km southern border with Serbia, 5* and it has passed harsh involving the treatment gees and penalties for them. Prime Minister Orban has cast it as a Christian values agains The Medite≥≥anean is a cemete≥y, we need a Eu≥ope 2.0 By ROGER COHEN New York Times OH, EUROPE, the Mediterranean, cradle of civilisation, is a watery grave. At the side of an Austrian highway, 71 nameless refugees perish, asphyxiated in a modern-day boxcar. Czech authorities, armed with indelible markers but bereft of a sense of history, inscribe identification numbers on the skin of 200 migrants. Others are duped by Hungarian police with promises of “freedom” and find themselves in a “reception” camp. Oh, Europe, Slovakia wants only Christian refugees, not the Muslims of Syria or Afghanistan. Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, says he is protecting “European civilisation” — read Christian Europe — as a 175km razor wire fence is installed along the Serbian border. David Cameron speaks of a “swarm” of migrants trying to reach Britain; it is locusts that move in swarms. A threeyear-old Syrian boy, his little left hand folded back as if he were asleep in a crib, lies dead on a Turkish beach, his face in the sand, his silent reproach indelible. He was called Aylan Kurdi. His family wanted to bring him to Europe. The shadows return, freighted with iro- nies. Orban’s Hungary turns its back on the magnificent Hungary of 1989, the first country to open the Iron Curtain a crack as it allowed tens of thousands of East Germans to cross into Austria and make their way to West Germany. Orban’s pusillanimous Hungary forgets how, in 1956, at the time of the Soviet invasion, about 200,000 Hungarians fled into Austria and found refuge and freedom in Western Europe. Hungary also chooses to ignore that, of all the blessings acquired by the former na- 175km tions of the Soviet bloc when the division of Europe ended, freedom of movement was the most prized. It was secured, this gift, with the fall of a wall. Now Hungary erects one. Hungary is not alone in its prejudice. The preference for Christian migrants, and equating of Muslims with inevitable menace, is marked across almost all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that were once part of the Soviet imperium. These states have not known the influx of post-colonial migrants that has changed several Western European societies. Their Jews were almost all killed by the Nazis (with help from local accomplices). Their ethnic make-up was further homogenised through border shifts or mass expulsions (ethnic Germans out of postwar Poland). Their recent history has been of mass emigration in search of job opportunities in the West, not of immigration. Oh, Europe, cursed with too much history, The razor wire fence being installed along the Serbian border to keep away migrants thy name is forgetfulness. Thy truth is miscegenation. Thy imagined tribes are just that, an illusion belied by endless migration over centuries. Thy hope is new blood, for racial purity was the altar of thy repetitive self-mutilation. Thy duty is memory, thy covenant with thy children openness and unity, for they must live. Yes, memory: If Europe cared to remem- ber, it would recall that this is the largest migratory wave since the end of World War II, when millions moved West from Stalin’s totalitarianism. It would also recollect that this mass movement was the culmination of a war that emanated from one of the continent’s great “civilisations,” Germany. Today, refugees clamour to get into Germa- ny. German flexibility, an unlikely commodity, is not enough. This is a European crisis. At a time of fracture in the European Union — Greece and the euro, Britain and possible exit, rising rightist parties, Vladimir Putin’s threats — Europe has been reminded of its core purpose and singular achievement: The ruin and misery it rose from, the abandoned masses it housed, the unity it forged after division had cost so many lives.
Sep 5th 2015
Sep 19th 2015