Europe's Humanitarian Crisis: The Inherent Injustices
It is highly beneficial for Europe to have a uniform migration policy. The Union must accept the reality that the massive movements will not stop, and setting up a fortress is not a sustainable solution.
Europe's Humanitarian Crisis: The Inherent Injustices
By Josh Makalintal / whygofederal.eu

“In a world that is ever more digitally connected, each of us has the power and responsibility to inspire our fellow human beings to act to help others and create a more humane world.”

– Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on World Humanitarian Day 2015

 

The continuing catastrophe

Over 2300 have already died attempting to reach Europe through the Mediterranean sea so far this year, with the latest atrocity happening last weekend when 49 people suffocated to death on an overcrowded boat.

Political persecution, armed conflict and economic pressures are just some of the leading causes of fleeing. Forcibly displaced people have no other choice but to leave everything behind to pursue journeys that begin with hope, but often end in sorrow – and the six o’clock news.

News reports surrounding these events are abundant and have no prospect of declining. Most people wanting to seek asylum depart from northern African coasts – notably Libya – before crossing the Med, where smuggling operations are plentiful and mostly let off by government control. These routes are highly life-threatening and expensive, forcing the desperate to pay thousands of euros to deceitful smugglers with no guarantee. With every passing day that Europe continues its inaction, traffickers will keep on exploiting the vulnerable and profit from their despair.

Whether or not you support open borders, you have to agree that this abuse and loss of life must end.

 

Why don’t they just fly?

Knowing the life-threatening risks of crossing the Med, it certainly begs the question of why these people don’t fly. Refugees usually have to sell all of their assets and undergo some risk to obtain enough money to venture off perilous journeys, so why won’t they just buy a direct flight to any European city? Plane tickets can amount to as low as €140 (e.g. Tunis – Rome). They are affordable, fast and above all, secure. Any rational person would take this option. But when they do attempt to reach the check-in counter at the airport, they are denied entry to the departure gates.

This is due to EU Directive 2001/51/EC, which gives member states the power to basically let transport carriers (airlines, boat lines, etc.) determine whether or not someone is a legitimate refugee or an irregular migrant. But here’s the catch: when carriers are believed to be transporting undocumented individuals, they may be susceptible to sanctions.

Swedish academic Prof. Hans Rosling explains the whole issue in this brief informative video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO0IRsfrPQ4 

“Every airline and boat line that brings a person without the proper documents for entry has to pay all the costs for returning that person back to their country of origin.

This is what gives commercial airlines an incentive not to allow people to board, for fear of financial penalties. Though the directive explicitly exempts legitimate refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention, the EU has nevertheless relinquished their responsibility to determine who is a refugee or not through this Directive and has effectively given it to air carriers – or plainly, the check-in counter staff at the airport.

In practice, according to Rosling:

“What is happening is that no one can board without a visa. So it is this directive that is the reason for so many refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.”

 

An immanent inequity

Imposing sanctions on private transport companies as a mechanism to prevent irregular migration has unjust consequences for asylum-seekers. The practice itself is furthermore a violation of the principle of non-refoulement manifested under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which forbids the returning refugees to their country of origin when the risk of being persecuted is active. It is also commensurate to an infringement against the freedom of movement under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to leave one’s country and seek asylum to another state.

It is also futile; even if carrier staff  who are non-state agents  are the ones engaging in this practice, the states (whose flag the airline is carrying) are nevertheless responsible for their actions under international law. It is irresponsible for member states to shift this critical responsibility. The directive and other related measures should be abolished and replaced by a more flexible mechanism which gives some leeway for refugees to be able to travel by plane.

Another factor that contributes to the mess is the intrinsic inequality of passports. EU citizens enjoy the advantage of being allowed to travel to more than 150 countries just because of their citizenship. Most migrants are deprived of such privileges. Their qualifications to enjoy the ‘visa-free’ freedom of movement depend highly on what nationality is stated on their passports. Syrians dwindle their options to only 39 countries, while Afghans suffer the most with their limited options of 28 countries. These people come from nations that have generated the most number of refugees in recent history, and this can make one conclude that the more imperative it is for one to flee their country, the harder it is to do so.

 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/passports-map_n_5536914.html

‘Not All Passports Are Created Equal, As This Map Will Tell You’ (The Huffington Post)

How to turn the tide?

In order to enhance the EU’s migration policy and to curb the systematic injustices, the Union has to reform its Visa Code. Visa documents are a kind of pre-frontier control, and currently, the EU imposes strict visa restrictions on citizens from conflict-ridden countries that produce a lot of refugees. Abolishing visa restrictions for people fleeing countries plagued by conflict would be too formidable and unrealistic. A more practical yet ambitious solution would be to revise the code and open the door to the use of humanitarian visas. These types of visas are to be given as a better legal alternative to ensure a more secure way to access a country for people in genuine need of protection, instead of resorting to dangerous and irregular routes.

It is highly beneficial for Europe to have a uniform migration policy. The Union must accept the reality that the massive movements will not stop, and setting up a fortress is not a sustainable solution. A coherent quota set-up based on a fair distribution system should be realized, in addition to funding refugee processing centers in transit countries in northern Africa and the Middle East for cogent monitoring of the movement of people. These measures would be efficient in deterring risky journeys and control the migration flow.

 

Upholding a humanitarian responsibility

European unification has freed the continent from the scourge of inhumanity. It has enabled the enrichment of cultures around the continent and the recognition of each European identity, making everyone a part of the project. This historic achievement must develop into something more; Europe must go beyond and start taking unprecedented courses of action to establish itself as a true global leader.

Promoting global justice, the protection of human rights and the prevention of civil conflicts must be at the forefront of European diplomacy. We live in desperate times, and to solve this large-scale humanitarian crisis in a rapidly globalizing world, we need to take extraordinary measures and at the same time maintain our duty to protect the sanctity of every person’s dignity.

3.8 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 14,938 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 14,686 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 9,190 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 8,393 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 7,066 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 4,865 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 4,468 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,676 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 2,279 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 2,126 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,993 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 1,894 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 1,855 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,762 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,557 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,497 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 1,455 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 1,396 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,303 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
The 24-Hour Emergency Hotline for Syrian Refugees
7 min · 1,095 views today · Mohammed Abu Amar runs a makeshift 24-hour helpline from his flat in Hamburg, guiding scared refugees fleeing the violence in Syria across the water to Europe.  Despite losing...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Europe's Humanitarian Crisis: The Inherent Injustices