October 24th 2015

  Buy Issue 2959

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Labor proposes expanded role for infrastructure fund

CANBERRA OBSERVED Crossbench unity plugs Coalition water spill

EDITORIAL Deplorable attack on Sir Peter Lawler

LITIGATION Appeal to freedoms will not avail for Archbishop

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe generous in face of Middle-Eastern influx

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe's refugee crisis was much worse last time

CULTURE WARS The PC left is saving us from ... Tintin and Twain

SCIENCE AND CERTAINTY No safety in numbers as variable as these

EUTHANASIA Belgium, Netherlands in the grip of the small laws

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Marriage redefinition will feed government business

PUBLIC POLICY A wake-up call from land of rocky highs and lows

CINEMA Respectfully intended to make you laugh: The Intern

BOOK REVIEW Clearing the head


Books promotion page

Europe generous in face of Middle-Eastern influx

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, October 24, 2015

Since the beginning of 2015, at least 500,000 people have flooded into Western Europe as a result of wars and civil turmoil in the Middle East and north Africa.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is

pursuing a policy of welcome.

This is substantially more than the 400,000 who entered Europe in 2014, and reflects in part the worsening situation in Syria, and the failure of the United Nations to continue to supply food, clothing and shelter for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced to Turkey and Lebanon by the fighting in Syria.

After the UN told refugees that it was unable to supply food to them, many simply abandoned camps, and began to walk towards Western Europe.

The flow of refugees has been augmented by many others from the Middle East and elsewhere who are seeking a better life in Europe as unapproved immigrants.

The extremely porous borders of Europe – from Turkey, Macedonia and north Africa – meant that it was practically impossible to stop the flood of people seeking safety. With smartphones and the internet, and a large number of people smugglers offering to take asylum seekers to Europe, there was never any possibility of stopping the human tide.

The result has been the largest flood of asylum seekers into Western Europe for years.

Largest ever?

Some have claimed that it is the largest such movement of people since World War II, but that is clearly not the case.

Tens of millions of people fled Germany and Eastern Europe to escape Soviet control after World War II, when the population of Western Europe was far lower than today. Separately, there is research indicating that more than 11 million Germans were expelled from other European countries, including Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland, in an unprecedented wave of ethnic cleansing after the war (See pages 9-10 of this edition of News Weekly for more on that event).

Just a decade ago, over 2 million people from Bosnia fled the country during its civil war, and 700,000 sought refuge in Europe.

The response to the latest crisis by the largest West European countries – Germany and France – has been extraordinarily generous, and a striking contrast to the wealthy Arab states of the Persian Gulf who have barely lifted a finger to help their fellow Sunni Muslims who have fled Syria due to the civil war.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor and who grew up in East Germany, has promised to take hundreds of thousands of refugees/migrants, while France’s President, François Hollande, has also been very generous.

Mrs Merkel seems determined that Germany will never again be a country which pursues xenophobia as national policy, and to decisively put the line under the horrific experiences of the Nazi and communist eras.

Both France and Germany have long had Muslim minorities: in Germany’s case, the result of “guest workers” from Turkey who went to work in West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, and stayed.

France has millions of Muslims, the children of those who entered France during the 1950s and 1960s from the French colonies (officially departments of France), principally from Algeria and Tunisia.

In light of the fact that the French minorities have formed ethnic enclaves which have been centres of crime, violence and terrorism around cities like Paris and Marseilles, the response of the French Government to the Middle East crisis has been extraordinary.

Italy and Greece have also been extraordinarily generous in taking people arriving by boat from north Africa and Turkey respectively. In part, this is due to the strong role of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have supported efforts to offer asylum.

Despite the response of these countries, there has been no coordi­nated European response, and despite appeals from EU leaders, none is likely.

Other countries in Europe have been less generous, often because of the troubled history dating back to the historical role of the Ottoman Empire in attempting to capture central and Eastern Europe.

Britain, which has long had very strict entry requirements, will take far fewer immigrants.

Despite the generosity, there are now moves to restrict the entry of asylum seekers. Angela Merkel has announced that people coming to Europe for economic reasons will have to go home, but she has put forward no plan to differentiate between the two groups. In many cases, the economic and political reasons why people want to leave the Middle East or north Africa for Europe are closely linked.

Along Europe’s eastern border, razor wire fences are being erected, there are calls for a European border force and coastguard, and the seizure of people smugglers’ boats. However, few countries are likely to agree to a new international police force with powers of arrest and detention operating within their borders.

At airports within Europe, police have been seen inspecting travel documents, in a clear attempt to prevent further movement of unauthorised arrivals. Despite this, the European response to the refugee crisis in Syria has been extremely generous, even if confused and at times chaotic.

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