In Europe we are fighting against immigration. The fact that the EU have no control over its non-existent common policy on immigration and asylum is one of the main reasons for the so-called populist rebellion against the EU. It is the main cause of Brexit, and it is the most important reason for EU-scepticism of even rebellion, in many EU countries.
The immigration policies of the member states is simple; we need to stop them before they arrive, and when that does not succeed we have to get rid of them ASAP. The debate on immigrants and refugees contains only these aspects. No one asks why these people are fleeing and from what and no one includes the real world in the debate.
In the real world about 68,5 million people (in 2018) have been forcibly displaced, according to the UNHCR. About 40% of them have remained in their home country, but forced away from their home region; they are internally displaced. 25,4 million are refugees from their home land and 3,1 million har applied for asylum in other countries. 85% of the 68,5 million are still in developing countries , primarily 4 countries: 8 million in Iran, Pakistand, Lebanon, Uganda and Turkey. About 11 million refugees are from 3 countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. It goes on: 44.400 people are displaced each and every day of the year – source.
For Europe alone the numbers are markedly lower. In the period from 2014 to 2018 Europe was burdened with barely 2 million refugees, less than 3% of the number of the total number of people displaced from the home region. Of course this number is insanely high, but it should be seen in the context that the population of Europe is about 740 million people, and that the global number of refugees is many times higher – source.
It does not stop here: the 68,5 million is not the end of the line; The “feast” continues! Gallup World has published a survey where 450.000 adult people around the world was asked this question – source and source.
Ideally, if you could, would you move permanently to another country, or would you prefer to stay in your own country.
It was not the first time such a survey had been made. The survey has been made three times: 2010-2012,2013-2016 and 2015-2017. The results are deeply frightening: in the last survey 15% answered that they wanted to emigrate, which means that about 750 million adults are considering becoming part of the flow of refugees, statistically speaking. This number does not include their spouses and children. The three surveys show that the tendency is increasing, from 13% in the first survey, 14% in the second and 15% in the last. In Africa south of the Sahara 33% of all adults share this wish to emigrate, while it is 24% in North Africa and the Middle East, and 27% in Latin America.
In no less than 13 countries more 40% wants to emigrant if they could, with Sierra Leone at the top with 71%. # of these countries are in the vicinity of Europe, while on is European and an EU member: Kosovo.
So we haven’t seen the last!
No matter how many Western countries close the borders, and no matter how much asylum seekers and their cultures is belittled, the pressure from immigration will continue to increase, especially if we continue to ignore the reasons.
The conclusion is self-evident and logical: It is about time at the refugee debate is converted FROM being a political hand gun for re-election TO focusing on the real problems: Why does 750 million people plus their families consider becoming emigrants? Why has 68,5 million already decided to do that?. And the most important question: How do we solved theses multi-dimensional and complex problems. How do we achieve the goal of creating circumstances to convince to stay in their home country and event more: to return.
But these question are not in part of what politicians bother to ask themselves or others. Answering these questions does not lead to re-election – only oral handgun, the walls and the closed borders will do that. The most effective weapon for re-election is to create fear; fear for “strangers in the night”, fear for what they will do to our culture and national identity. It is so glaringly irresponsible, egotistical and short-sighted.
Why do they flee? There is only one question in the refugee-debate we should have, that is more important: How do we solve it?
The first-level answer to the first question is, that they flee from intolerable living conditions either created by armed conflicts or poverty, which has been created by socio-eonomic conditions making it impossible for people to make a meaningful existence for themselves.
But that is only the first level: The next level is to ask for the causes for these armed conflicts, and too ask why it is impossible to create constructive living conditions in these poor countries, even though there have been some economic growth in several developing countries.
First the armed conflicts:
There are two main reasons for these conflicts:
- Despots who regard mass murdering their citizens as a legitimate way to cling on to power, often supported by super powers, who see strategic or economic advantages in adding fuel to the fire.
- Local warlords, who see an opportunity to improve their own living conditions and not least their ego, by starting an internal conflict in their own country. This opportunity can arise most prevalently in countries where stable political structures are more or less absent, often caused by old colonial masters having failed in achieving this.
These conflicts remain unsolved for one primary reason: The structure in the UN Security Council (UNSC). Conflicts are typically ignored until at least one of the 5 permanent members see a strategic or economic advantage in stopping a conflict, and only if this intervention is not stopped by one of the other permanent members. The suffering of people play no role, refugee-problems play no role, poverty is disregarded, the death of children is ignored, until the moment where refugees arrive at the borders of Europe or USA. Then suddenly we awaken to a reality, which we have contributed in creating, but haven’t seen any advantage in contributing to resolve, before it grew to a disproportionate extent.
It is not only cynical. It is shortsighted, incompetent and irresponsible politics.
Our reaction is as automatic and predictable, as it is panicky: Stay away!!!
Socio-economic living conditions.
The core in this problem is globalization, that will by its nature and neo-liberal principles create and nurture socio-economic inequality. A statistical drop in global poverty has happened. The World is moving toward less inequality, at least statistically – source and source.
But reality is not statistical: dissatisfaction with living conditions is increasing to such an extent that in the poorer countries more than 20% consider becoming an emigrant.
Perhaps statistical truth is only skin-deep. Many poor countries is caught in a situation where wealth is being concentrated on fewer hands, the conditions of middleclass is improved to some extent, but the poorest remain poor.
The poorest countries find it difficult to break out of the recessive straightjacket, forced upon them by international markets and IMF etc., either because an elite is shoveling in riches and disregarding the rest of the population, or because international institutions, that should help, are demanding so much, that in the real world it is not possible to have growth trickling down all the way to the bottom of the social ladder.
International institutions, especially the IMF is playing a destructive role with their focus on debt payment instead of development.
The big players on the global market, especially the USA, the EU and China and global companies play a destructive role by distorting markets so that trade surplus is flowing from the poorer countries to the richest countries – that is how they get rich. It is the opposite of development.
The problems we see globally are repeated in the EU. The EU demands free movement of labour; it also has eliminated normal macro-economic tools like public investments, devaluation, and rent adjustments. Combined with the economic crisis that started in 2007/08 this has forced many EU countries into recession with increasing unemployment, for some at more than 20%. These countries in the south and east of the EU are the ones that have received most of the refugees.
This is the main reason for the rebellion against immigration in European countries. This is why we see an increase in rightwing extremism in Europe: the present system of social welfare is under pressure and people see that labour from other countries are putting wages under pressure. This is also one of the main reason why integration is ineffective: unemployment starting in about 2008. The result is to be expected: The acceptance of immigrants faulter and we get a political culture fixed on demeaning immigrants as much as possible.
Solving these problems is a huge task. There are much political automaticity that needs to be changed. Men the refugee problem has only one tendency: upwards. We need to get started.
We need to get away from a globalization, where market mechanisms are actively and willfully distorted so that the strongest always win. Perhaps the long-term solution is a gradual de-globalisation of national economies.. Perhaps it is not very wise to have an economy so dependent on international market that are not known for stability and that are actively fighting a just division of revenue.
The World Society needs to become better at dealing with crises and conflicts proactively. Super powers must understand that the most sensible kind of politics is not their ego-centric navel-gazing; on the contrary: the most sensible is to treat people equally no matter what country they come from.
What if the conflict in Syria had been solved proactively with an intervention from the UN, supported also by Russia, and with guaranties that Russian strategic interests in Syria would be respected? Assad could have been removed at an early stage, and we would have avoided the flow of refugees from Syria, not to mention the suffering and death of countless people. Syria could have become an important partner for many countries.
It is incomprehensible that presumably intelligent political leaders can consider armed conflicts as trivial or even an advantage. It is not the case economically speaking: trade opportunities evaporate and people – that is labour force and investors – are killed or become refugees. That is definitely not an advantage. But it seems that these leaders are unable to think more than a few years ahead. Is that intelligent? For more details read my book “Rights-and-Democracy: A Clash with Capitalism, Socialism and Neo-liberalism”.