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Syrian Refugee Crisis & Europe

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Syrian Refugee Crisis & Europe

  1. 1. The Syrian Refugee Crisis & Europe By: Akram Khalid March 2016
  2. 2. Muslim Population in Europe • As of 2010, the European Union was home to about 13 million Muslim immigrants – 4.8 million Muslims in Germany (5.8% of the country’s population) and – 4.7 million Muslims in France (7.5% of country’s population) • Within Europe, Russia alone has the biggest Muslim population 14 million Muslims (10% is of country’s population
  3. 3. Population Growth Rate in Europe • There has been steady increase in Muslim population in Europe • Since 1990, growth of 1 percent point per decade has been witnessed; from 4 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2010 • Experts expect this pattern to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population
  4. 4. Younger Muslim Population • In 2010, median age of European Christians was 42 years • Median age of religiously unaffiliated people, including atheists, agnostics and those with no religion was 37 years • Median age of Muslims throughout Europe was 32 eight years • By contrast, Muslim Population was eight years younger than median European age of 40 years
  5. 5. Europe’s Views About Muslims Country Favorable % Unfavorable France 72 27 Britain 64 26 Germany 58 33 Spain 49 46 Greece 43 53 Poland 32 58 Italy 28 63 PEW Research 2014
  6. 6. Syria – Recent History • Syria is the oldest continuously inhabited country • It also remained a province of the former Ottoman Empire • Following World War I, France acquired & administered Syria until granting it independence in 1946 • The new country lacked political stability and experienced a series of military coups • In 1958, Syria united with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic • In 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was re-established.
  7. 7. Syria – Recent History • Syria lost Golan Heights region to Israel in the Arab-Israel war of 1967 • Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks in the 1990’s over the return of Golan Heights region • Hafiz-al-Asad, a member of the socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup in 1970 and brought political stability to the country • Following the death of Hafiz-al-Asad in 2000, his son, Bashar-al-Asad became President through popular referendum
  8. 8. Syria – Economic Overview Indicators Quantum Population (July 2014 Est.) 17.064 Million Un-employment Rate (2015 Est.) 57.7 Percent Population Below Poverty Line (2006 Est.) 82.5 Percent Exports (Billion US Dollars) 2015 1.849 2014 3.015 2010 11.353 2009 11.693 2008 14.380 2007 11.545 2006 10.919
  9. 9. Sufferings of Syrian People • Heartless and senseless conflict since 2011 has killed over 300,000 Syrians and over half the population has been forced from their homes out of fear • Some 4.6 million people are barely existing in places where aid cannot reach • Nearly 6.0 million people have fled, mainly to neighboring countries • Syria, the oldest continuously inhabited country is today completely uninhabitable and almost unrecognizable – may take generations to rebuild
  10. 10. Major Refugee Destinations Country Refugees (Million) Turkey 3.0 Lebanon 1.1 Jordan 0.6 Iraq 0.4 Egypt 0.1 Europe 0.5
  11. 11. International Law on Refugees • Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” • These principles are fleshed out in the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the respective Protocol of 1967 • The Convention of 1951 was a product of post-WWII Europe. The drafters limited its scope geographically and chronologically to alleviate refugee crises caused by the Second World War. The Protocol of 1967 consecutively extended the 1951 Convention’s scope, stripping it from its previous historically rationalized limitations • Both documents, the Convention of 1951 and its Protocol, can be ratified separately and indeed some countries have chosen to ratify just one instead of both. 148 countries have ratified one or both, including all EU member states
  12. 12. Shortcomings in Refugees Law • Rights of the Refugee Convention unfold gradually as the bond between the hosting country and the refugee becomes stronger • A set of rights might already apply when the person is physically present but other rights only apply when the person has filed his or her papers (is “lawfully present”) • Right to waged employment only unfolds when asylum-seeker has settled in the country for three to six months • The historical reason for this gradual increase is that the drafters were facing large, unforeseen refugee inflows before 1951 and were reluctant to grant refugees a wide set of rights instantly.
  13. 13. European Laws on Human Rights • European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was active long before the EU began its efforts in refugee law; ratified by 47 states • ECtHR has developed a guarantee of non-refoulement via its jurisprudence. • ECtHR ruled in Chahal v UK that deportation order of a Sikh refugee infringed Article 3 of the European Convention of HR • Chahal was arrested (but not convicted) for conspiracy to kill the then Indian PM. He claimed that deportation to India would result in a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment which would violate the right to asylum
  14. 14. European Laws on Human Rights • Court ruled in Chalal’s favor, holding that Article 3 contained a guarantee that is absolute. UK could thus not rely on its national security interest to justify the deportation of the applicant • The ECtHR is not elected democratically and cannot make laws. The ECtHR needs a case before it to make a decision and therefore cannot proactively create policies as it deems necessary • Moreover, the ECtHR has not (yet) enforced equal acceptance standards across the EU, which is one of the biggest tasks today
  15. 15. European Laws on Human Rights • For instance, Afghan asylum seekers in 2011 had a three percent chance of becoming recognized refugees in the Netherlands and a thirty-three percent chance to become recognized in Austria • A recent report by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) confirms this trend.13 In 2014, positive decision rates for Eritrean nationals varied from twenty-six in France to one hundred percent in Sweden, while rates for Iraqi nationals ranged from fourteen percent in Greece to ninety-four percent in France. • Even Syrians, whose refugee status is less controversial internationally, have different acceptance rates across Europe. Naturally, it is usually the most burdened countries that have the lowest acceptance rates
  16. 16. UNHCR Recommendations UNHCR has given six point plan for broad guidance of EU to manage and stabilize the refugee situation: 1) Implement fully the so-called "hot spot" approach and relocation of asylum seekers out of Greece and Italy and, at the same time, return individuals who don't qualify for refugee protection, including under existing readmission agreements 2) Step up support to Greece to handle the humanitarian emergency, including for refugee status determination, relocation, and return or readmission 3) Ensure compliance with all the EU laws and directives on asylum among Member States
  17. 17. UNHCR Recommendations 4) Make available more safe, legal ways for refugees to travel to Europe under managed programs so that refugees do not resort to smugglers and traffickers to find safety 5) Safe-guard individuals at risk, including systems to protect unaccompanied and separated children, measures to prevent and respond to sexual, gender-based violence etc. 6) Develop Europe-wide systems of responsibility for asylum- seekers, including the creation of registration centers in main countries of arrival, and setting up a system for asylum requests to be distributed in an equitable way across EU Member States
  18. 18. GCC Response to Refugee Crisis • GCC states are not signatories to any of the protocol/ Convention relating to the Status of Refugees so they do not recognize “Refugees”. • Despite claims of GCC Countries to have accommodated millions of Syrian refugees, there has been in reality “zero accommodation” provided by these countries • During 2011 & 2013, slightly over 3 million Syrians entered Saudi Arabia and almost similar number exited every year • In Kuwait almost 0.7 million Syrians entered the country during same period and almost same number exited • UAE government claims having accommodated more than 100,000 Syrians (not verifiable) in addition to grant in aid of over US$ 1 billion for Syrian Refugees
  19. 19. Turkey’s Response to Refugee Crisis While Turkey has accommodated the highest number of refugees on its soil, it has demanded from EU the following: • Relaxation in visa restrictions for 75 million Turks within Europe’s 26-member border-free travel zone by the end of June, instead of October as originally promised • Restart Turkey’s EU membership talks in five policy areas (chapters in EU jargon), not just the two already offered • One Syrian refugee on the Greek islands will be returned to Turkey and, in exchange, a Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey will be found a home in Europe
  20. 20. Europe’s Response to Refuge Crisis • European Union & Council of Europe have failed to step up collectively in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. • European Union’s border states such as Greece and Italy had capacity issues to address increasing flows of refugees • European countries mostly remained divided over accommodating refugees • Germany on the contrary set a more welcoming example in 2015 • If systems had been put in place earlier, particularly in Italy and Greece, the EU would not be facing acute crisis in handling refugees
  21. 21. Germany’s Purported Economic Motive • According to the US media reports, by 2060 only half the population of Germany will be of working age and one in eight will be over 80. • Overall population will likely have shrunk from 81 million to 73 million • While many Germans may be welcoming refugees as a matter of principle, the reality of the situation is also that the country is lacking skilled workers and stands to benefit economically from welcoming newcomers, many of whom are young and educated
  22. 22. Associated Risks • In violation of the EU laws, many member countries are building fence along their borders to avoid influx of refugees. This is because of several fears such as: • The exacerbation of anti-immigration sentiment • Burden on public finances of European countries • Medium- to long-term economic implications • Deteriorating security in the Middle East & Europe • Difficulties of cultural & religious integration • Fear that terrorists might enter Europe
  23. 23. Associated Benefits for Ageing Europe • Most asylum-seekers in Europe are a potential workforce that could relieve the continent’s economic hardship • 59.1% of male and 41% of female applicants are between the ages of 18 and 34 • A large influx of young people into a demographically aging continent needs to be understood as an opportunity, not as a threat • Absorption of refugees can be an important tool to strengthen Europe’s workforce. • A report by the research service of the European Parliament suggests that a well-managed refugee influx can lead to a positive impact on GDP growth
  24. 24. United States’ Response to Refugees • United States has shown interest in taking at least 10,000 displaced Syrians in 2016 although experts suggest US could take more • More than half of US governors are against taking Syrian refugees owing to perception of threat to public security & drain on public resources • Research shows that in short term there could be pressure on resources … but in the long term, refugees compensate by contributing to economy way more than the expenses spent on them • Reports suggest that in Europe they’ve found refugees have been a net positive for them
  25. 25. Pakistan & Afghan Refugees • Afghanistan’s instability for decades after the Soviets invasion followed by the US invasion in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks resulted in huge influx of Afghan refugees across the border into Pakistan • Pakistan not only was burdened with millions of Afghan refugees but also it became victim of frequent terrorist attacks • Pakistan continues to pay a heavy price both in the economic and security terms in addition to a tarnished image globally due to this situation. • Substantial portion of precious national resources both men and material, have been diverted to address the emerging security challenges for the last several years.
  26. 26. Pakistan & Afghan Refugees • Presently, there are an estimated three million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, of which nearly half are illegal inhabitants • Owing to uncertainties in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees are not willing to go back • Afghan government requested Pakistan to allow the remaining 1.5 million registered refugees to stay on in Pakistan for another two years up Dec 2017 • A day after the request was made, security agencies had nabbed 52 people involved in financing terrorists in Pakistan — all Afghans. This is merely one instance of the profound negative security implications of hosting millions of Afghan refugees
  27. 27. Pakistan & Afghan Refugees • Nearly one million Afghan refugees are running big businesses in Pakistan worth millions of dollars. Most of them run import and export, and currency exchange businesses • Roughly 200,000 refugees own vehicles • The home department statistics reveal 400 schools for Afghan refugees exist across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province • 9000 Afghan doctors running clinics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province • Thousands of the refugees are said to own houses • Many have made illegal Pakistani identity cards as they consider themselves Pakistanis.
  28. 28. General Comments • Worldwide, 19.5 million people have been forced to seek sanctuary abroad • Governments have a duty to help them. But most rich countries are still treating refugees as somebody else’s problem • Hiding behind closed borders and fears of being “flooded”, they have conveniently allowed poorer, mainly Middle Eastern, African and South Asian countries, to host an incredible 86% of all refugees
  29. 29. General Comments • Today, this world has become a violent and unsafe place • In their quest to grab resources of weaker countries, the rich & powerful nations are creating war like situations, political unrests & civil wars in those countries • These nations are not even hesitating to kill millions of innocent children, women and men; those who are left to live become either physically or mentally disabled • Laws are being promoted to prohibit killing of beasts; displacement & killing of innocent people has become routine • United Nations has become a silent spectator and redundant as an organization; In most cases coverage of United Nations is taken to fulfil ulterior motives • We are ourselves destroying this world with our own hands
  30. 30. Thank you

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