From The Editors Politics

Refugees System is Failing and the World is Silent

The world can probably never forget the image of the lifeless body of 3-year old Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy, who washed ashore on the beach in Turkey on the 02 September 2015.

Alan, was yet another victim, probably the youngest in a crisis that has sent ripples of shockwaves throughout the world. The cries of the Syrian refugees are reverberating and sadly enough it seems to be falling on deaf ears except for a few European countries especially Germany and its great humane leader Angela Merkel.

Kurdi’s family members were hoping to join their relatives after his aunt Tima Kurdi residing in Vancouver, British Columbia filed for refugee sponsorship, but due to documentation problems the application was rejected as Turkey refused the exit visa.

The family had no other recourse but to take the smuggler’s route and traveled in rickety boats across the Mediterranean. The family paid $ 5860 for 4 spaces but the raft type boat was in poor condition and as a result of heavy waves it capsized . Alan’s mother and his brother Ghalib also died.

Alan Kurdi (Aylan Kurdi)
Alan Kurdi (Aylan Kurdi) dead body in Turkey

The images of Alan Kurdi lying on the beach caused international outrage and world leaders become cognizant of their responsibilities. The Canadian Government investigated the case of Kurd’s family application and Parliament reviewed its immigration laws.

The civil war in Syria has created one of the worst refugees’ crisis ever since the second world war and there seems to be no end to the human suffering due to the conflict.

Forces opposed to the regime of President Bashar Al Asad are fighting his Army throughout the length and breadth of the country and Assad troops are heavily supported by Russia and its President Vladimir Putin while the rebel forces are being supplied by the US and its allies.

There is neither a military solution to the conflict nor a political one. To exacerbate the conflict IS or Islamic State have seized several towns in Syria and adding to the carnage and mayhem.

In the face of bloody onslaughts on both Iraq and Syria and destruction of entire cities, what else can the people do but to flee for their lives?

The boat people have been arriving on Mediterranean shores long before the Syrian crisis but now the situation has increased manifold.
Besides genuine refugees, economic migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka ply this route also.

According to figures by the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), the top three nationalities of the over one million Mediterranean sea arrivals between January 2015 and March 2016 were Syrian 46% , Afghans, (20.9%) and Iraqi (9.4%).

The break-up of the refugees in 2015, where 58% were men, 17% women, and 25% children. A total number of 1200 people died in April 2015 when five boats carrying almost 2000 migrants sank in the cold waters of the Mediterranean.

The crisis and ongoing conflict in many African and Asian states swelled the ranks of displaced persons almost to 60 million and which contributed to an upsurge in sea arrivals from Libya to Italy.

The Italian Government tried its best to stem the tide or flow of refugees by launching Operation Mare Nostrum later replaced by Operation Triton but due to the huge influx major European countries stopped funding further compounding the crisis.

Greece had overtaken Italy by mid-2015 as the destination for migrants and even Alan Kurdi’s family were attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos.

After little Alan’s drowning Europe was in a quandary about what to do to mitigate the crisis. The problem was so monumental that there was no solution in sight . European ministers huddled together to look for a solution and many countries agreed each would absorb a limited number of refugees.

It was only the magnanimity and greatness of the German Leader Angela Merkel who agreed to allow a million refugees to enter the country. Despite fierce opposition Merkel who can best be described as the Queen of Humanity stood her ground.

It is sad to state but most of the refugees fleeing conflict from Iraq and Syria are Muslims and yet the Muslim world did not lift a finger to accommodate the refugees.

Rich Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. Qatar, UAE, and Bahrain refused to take in a single refugee and left it to the Europeans to handle the crisis.

They may have given the monetary donation but nothing else. The sad and bitter fact of the matter is they are not part of the solution but part of the problem.

It is well known that Qatar and Saudi Arabia have sympathies for IS and may have contributed funds, the Saudi contention perhaps being IS will be a front against its arch nemesis Iran.

Iran, so, is battling IS and supporting Bashar Al Asad and even have influenced the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah to send its fighters to Damascus to protect the Shrine of Syeda Zainab, the Prophet’s Granddaughter.

Turkey is housing one million refugees but Turkey is facing the brunt of IS attacks while many European countries are applying strict border controls to stop the influx.

The United States and Canada have also granted immigration to these refugees but the crisis is far from over.

So the question comes, has the world failed in its obligation to resolve the refugee crisis?

The answer may be ambiguous but one thing is sure , the World has not acted fast enough in conflict resolution . Had the powers of the world been united to resolve the crisis in Syria and Iraq, the refugee crisis would not have reached monumental proportions.

The USA as a matter of tradition and policy does not see eye to eye with the Russians and mutual distrust and suspicion has played a vital role in escalating the crisis.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President wants to restore the lost glory of the Russians and is playing a dominant role to oppose US policy globally. He is also hoping that Donald Trump is elected President of the USA as Trump has vowed to cut down NATO funding and American forces which will boost Russian interest in other areas like the Ukraine.

Coming back to the refugee’s crisis one can say that Europe, USA, and Canada are doing all in its power to ease their suffering but the task is gigantic.

Pakistan and Turkey stretched to their limits are housing more than a million refugees. In Pakistan’s case, they are not Syrians or Iraqis but Afghans who have been in the country for more than 3 decades having fled from the conflict that is, from the Taliban which has been stirring it up for the last 30 years. So, in other words, Pakistan can ill afford to cater to Iraqi or Syrian refugees. Even if they could the refugees in question would prefer the greener pastures of Europe or North America rather than this troubled region.

Angela Merkel of Germany can be described as the Queen of humanity. She is the savior of Europe, first bailing out fiscally troubled countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal and now handling the refugee crisis like a true and great world leader that she is.

Even though IS related incidents and the New year’s eve asylum seekers misbehavior and sexual overtures to German women in the city of Cologne sparked outrage she contended that all refugees were not to blame for the problems at large.

It should also note that those who create such crisis should be held accountable and reminded of their responsibility. Bashar Al Asad in his quest to hold on to power has unleashed one of the greatest humanitarian problems of the time. Had he had the vision of realizing the consequences of his folly he would have relinquished power.

The great powers that be, must resolve this conflict just as they brought about the Iran nuclear deal to avert a volatile situation between probably Iran and Israel.

Saner heads should prevail. IS with its demented doctrine must be wiped out completely. Taliban must be reined in.

Refugee crisis from human conflict is not a disaster of nature like floods, tsunami or earthquakes. It is created by man and thus should resolve by man also.

The world has gone through two major world wars but has reemerged and rebuilt itself. It is the collective responsibility of all major countries that any conflict does not grow out of so much control that it creates a major global crisis.

The world has seen immense suffering, untold atrocities, hardships, bloodletting and natural calamities.

It is a universal human right for everyone born irrespective of their caste, color creed or religion to live in liberty, equality, peace, and harmony and live their lives according to their aspirations.

We must pledge and strive to change this world for the better for little Alan Kurdi sacrificed his life to seeking a better and secure life. Surely we owe it to the toddler’s memory to make our world a better place to live in.

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By Syed Anwer Ali

Ali Anwer is a veteran journalist having worked in Asia’s leading English daily newspaper for almost a decade. A prolific writer, he has contributed articles to different newspapers and established websites. He has also engaged in sports reporting for a brief period.

Having traveled the world extensively, he is a repository of information on world history, current affairs, political events and the entertainment industry. Being a movie buff he is an encyclopedia on Hollywood movies and actors.

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