Europe’s response to the refugee crisis

Many if not most people in European countries want their respective governments to alleviate the refugee crisis in the Balkans, but in this instance it is unreasonable to blame the EU, as distinct from its individual governments. While most EU governments have foolishly signed up to the Schengen (no border checks) Agreement, they, not the EU, retain the legal right and responsibility for the Agreement’s implementation at their own borders, as Hungary and now Croatia and Slovenia have demonstrated.

Given the on-going civil wars in Syria, it is Germany in the person of its Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has turned a four-year-old crisis into a catastrophe. By announcing an open-door policy to Syrian refugees, she has effectively committed the Balkan countries and Greece to letting upwards of a million trudge across their territories in predictably deteriorating weather.

But the refugees bear some of the responsibility too. Under the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees), refugees are required to seek refuge in the first safe country they come to.  For the most part they have chosen to cross six safe European countries to reach their goal, Germany.  In effect they have converted themselves from war-fleeing refugees into economic migrants, as numerous individuals have made abundantly clear throughout the summer.

The best thing to be done now for the millions wanting to come to Northern Europe is for Germany to rescind its open-door policy and for the refugees to be retained in the countries they are presently in now, with the rest of the EU assisting those countries with portable weather-proof housing and cash for food and heating. In the longer term, the concept of building safe-haven enterprise towns in Libya and parts of the Middle East as advocated on this website (August 12th) is the only measure which can deal with the enormity of the crisis.

Britain has agreed to take 20,000 people (mainly orphaned children) from the refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Syria itself, spread over the next 5 years. Those like the bishops and a well-known actor who used a West End stage to demand that Britain take many more (50,000 has been mentioned) clearly haven’t the faintest idea of what is entailed by relocating refugees in Welfare Britain.  Just 200 children received recently in Essex have required over a hundred foster homes, medical treatment, intensive English teaching, winter clothing, school places, pocket money, and so on.  Home Office estimates are that it will cost £14,000 for a child to £24,000 for an adult refugee per year – say £350 million per year when the full 20,000 have arrived in 4 years’ time – and this is only 2% of those already in Europe, with many more queuing to come.

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