Agenzia Habeshia. Escape for Life
Refugees. Possible Solutions.
The European Union is preparing to face an enormous problem with the mass exodus crossing its borders. To finally reach a new immigration policy, it is necessary to take into account the rights of refugees and migrants and to enforce an immediate shared solution into concrete options in the short, medium and long term. Some signs have emerged in recent days, especially by Germany, with the statements of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the single European asylum system with mandatory quotas, exceeding the Dublin Regulation 3. They are definitely encouraging. In view of the forthcoming meeting between the European governments, the Agency Habeshia, based on it’s over the years experience, gained directly by assisting asylum seekers, migrants, field study and the situation that has gradually created over time, there are some proposals.
The possible solutions to end the humanitarian catastrophe comprising the exodus of millions of refugees fleeing war, dictatorship, persecution, terrorism, famine, poverty and endemic famine, environmental disasters, dissolution of States of origin, derive from the analysis of the very issues that cause it. The problems must be examined from two perspectives:
- In the immediate term, requiring prompt action in the short and medium term regarding the rising tide of arrivals. Especially, the massacre of predominately men and women from Africa and the Middle East without legal alternatives on the ground whom are forced to entrust their lives to smugglers before traveling via the Sahara, onto the northern African coast and finally crossing the Mediterranean in deplorable fishing boats and rafts. The facts show a staggering escalation of victims: 25,000 in the last fifteen years, about 3,600 last year alone (including deaths at sea and on the ground before arriving at the Mediterranean coast), nearly 2,600 since January to present.
- In the long term, in order to eliminate the root causes that drive millions of men and women to leave in search of an authentic life, there needs to be peace and stability in the countries and regions where the vast majority of refugees depart.
Interventions in the short and medium term-
A point most fundamental point is to organize a legal immigration system to dismantle the blackmail of smugglers and human trafficking that refuges fall prey. Essentially, there are four points. These four points are interrelated to each other and need to should be implemented together as the project could not stand in the absence of one of the four. The four essentials: humanitarian channels, ‘open’ embassies, dignified living conditions for refugees in countries of transit and ‘first stop’, a new reception system in Europe.
- Humanitarian Channels:
There should be a developed rescue or transfer system by air/sea and legal immigration in the shortest time possible for those at risk, such as children, women, the sick, the wounded and for refuges or asylum seekers whose life are threatened in the countries where they currently reside. There should also be assistance for refugees currently hosted in countries reaching the limits of their possibilities. The most obvious case is that of Lebanon, with less than 5 million inhabitants, it opened its borders to more than one million refugees and asylum seekers. In the past years, UNHCR has long urged this type of operation and proposed resettlement programs for tens of thousands of people, starting with the "weakest" which they repeated and voiced even a few weeks ago. This request, except for a few notable exceptions - has so far remained unanswered. This can be initiated with programs UNHCR already has in the pipeline.
- Open Embassies:
The idea is to give the opportunity for refugees to present their asylum application directly to the embassy of an EU member located in the African country of transit and/or the initial stop where there is refuge with sufficient safety and respect for human rights. They will complete this process with the embassy before they leave and not in Italy or in another European country. Clearly, if not all but at least the vast majority of European governments should adhere so the problem is not a downloaded on a handful of states. At each embassy or consulate there should be a special commission in consultation with the UNHCR.
- Conditions of refugees in countries of transit and first stop.
For refugees who decide to remain in the ‘first stop’ country and are waiting for their asylum application or any other form of international protection to be considered, should be guaranteed a dignified and secure living condition. To this end, we need to study, interventions in support of the European policy on asylum and aid, in consultation and collaboration with the host countries, so obviously, one is not burdened by accommodation costs, logistics, service as well as that of social integration for those who choose to stay. In this context, they could effectively use the available funds of the cooperation system.
However, it is clear that to implement a program of this kind, we must choose (as mentioned in step two) states "reliable" for the respect of human rights and security. For example, it is not common sense as it is with the Process of Khartoum to ask collaboration with states that lead with questionable democracy and/or dictatorships who also force the refugees to "escape for life." For instance, the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir was served by an international arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and recently the police and military have become protagonists of looting, violence, persecutions against populations considered close to the rebel forces; particularly in the Darfur region. In addition, the accusations of representatives in various levels of the security apparatus of the regime are in complicity with the smugglers against the refugees. This is also the case in Egypt; illegal entry into the country is a crime and the punishment is imprisonment followed by forcible return. These conditions have worsened with the dictatorship of General Al Sisi. The same applies to the Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki. Currently, in proportion to a population of 5 million, Eritreans particularly the young are the highest number of refugees fleeing their country. This year, 115,000 immigrants arrived in Italy and 25 percent are Eritreans, a growth trend of about 2 percentage points higher when compared to last year - 23 percent of a total of about 170,000 arrivals.
- Unique system of European asylum and reception.
In the very near future, there should be in a single system of asylum and reception, with mandatory quotas, shared and implemented by all Member States of the European Union, with the same standards of treatment and the same chances and opportunities for social inclusion in each country, modeled on the national systems currently do best. In essence, setting a quota mechanism for each country, it is a playing field so that the results flow balanced and controlled, taking into account not only the geographical, population, economy, job opportunities , etc. in each country, but also any special situations such as the presence of family members, friends of the refugees and previous contacts through work, school. It should also be studied a system of equalization and support in favor of European countries that are less "attractive".
In this manner, there is the potential of at least changing the most contradictory and punitive aspects of the Dublin Regulation 3 and would exceed automatically the pending implementation of only the new system of reception. It also appears, necessary to proceed immediately to currently reform ameliorative systems inefficient and even disadvantageous for hosts such as the Italians and Greeks.
For these four basic guidelines, one closely linked to each other, the functions of the system should be supported by interventions in the short term:
- Using the model of Mare Nostrum, an immediate implementation throughout the Mediterranean, a rescue operation with a sufficient deployment of means and teams. With the contribution of all European Union member states and under the aegis of the UN, the same rules of engagement for the project as implemented from 1 November 2013 to 1 November 2014.
- Reversal of the broad unitary and state immigration spending policy. The last budget of the Union for immigration polices is 7 billion Euros of which 55 percent, is intended for security interventions, supervision and border control and only 45 percent for the reception. This ratio, needs to be reversed as soon as possible.
- Revocation of the Process of Khartoum, which is likely to lead to a further externalization of borders of Fortress Europe, even moved south of the Sahara, delegating immigration control throughout Africa to Eastern States of uncertain democracy, or even to real dictatorships, regardless of the fate that they will meet the refugees. Consequently, revocation also of bilateral agreements between individual European governments and individual designed with the same criteria and the same goals of the Process of Khartoum.
- Program of investigations and joint international action against human trafficking (coordinated actions between the various governments concerned, Interpol, etc.). Italy has given great emphasis to the arrest of hundreds of suspected smugglers. In reality, the smugglers are generally only the last link of the criminal organization that manages this lucrative "market". Instead, hardly nothing is done with transnational investigations conducted in Europe and in the countries of origin to go back to the top of organized traffickers and transit of refugees.
Launch a common European policy to pacify and stabilize the countries where the main points of crisis from which the refugees flee. As a basic principle, in terms of a new general policy between the northern and southern hemisphere there should be established the ‘equality’ and the respect for human rights of countries that were once described as ‘underdeveloped’ and were mostly former colonies of Western powers. In view of a new general policy the northern hemisphere against the southern hemisphere, must take into account, as a basic principle, "equality" and the respect for human rights and the rights of countries that were once described as "underdeveloped", mostly former colonies of Western powers.
Much of the many crises that cause emigration and the flight of thousands of people from their country are the result of actions and choices dictated by the policy of individual European states and, in general, the Northern part of the world. This is particularly evident in countries totally destabilized by wars and conflicts such as Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and others. In other situations, the sovereignty and freedom of the same people are being challenged and undermined by Western politics with the cooperation of governments with little or no representation of the popular will and collective interests but rather sensitive to external economic and geopolitical interests. In fact, frequently, at the root of wars, tensions, undemocratic regimes or even dictatorships "of convenience", there is a policy dictated by Western interests or at least from a development system that is essentially based on control and often even the robbery of raw materials and resources of weaker countries.
The point is to reverse this trend, by implementing the decision to "go to the suburbs (andare verso le periferie)" that Pope Francis indicated in his inauguration. Then immediately reaffirmed in July 2013, during his first pastoral visit on the island of Lampedusa where he launched an appeal "to the powerful of the earth" to listen to the cry of "the least powerful of the earth."
Certainly, a speech with perspective, long and hard, but even now you can take decisions that will mark a turning point, giving credibility and strength to the will for change. We cite four, as simple examples:
-Inclusion with the respect for human rights and the rights of refugees in economic contracts, commercial, projects of cooperation with the countries of origin, of transit and temporary admission of refugees.
- Implement strict embargo implementation with international controls on the supply of arms to countries at war and those who do not respect human rights.
- International isolation of regimes that do not respect the fundamental rights and freedoms.
- Impartial proposals for mediation interventions under the aegis of the UN, to try to solve as soon as possible at least some of the many ongoing conflicts, which often drag on for years with no prospect.