Four million people have fled Syria since the crisis there began in 2011, most to neighboring countries. The United Nations refugee agency has called for 130,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled by the end of 2016. However, the West is being lambasted for their lack of support in quelling the current immigration crisis.
In the Western world there is something called “behavior of customs” and Western countries based on customs and state practice have a proclivity to be lenient towards immigrants+/Refugees in perilous times. Thus, before the era of Tony Blair’s “open door policy” which was deemed somewhat an irresponsible immigration policy by some critics and before Enoch Powell’s disgraceful 1968 “rivers of blood” speech – my point is that; the whole issue of immigration became muddled and mired by politics, but, Britain was known for its tradition of helping refugees.
Traditionally, Britain have always lend a helping hand to immigrants/refugees during a time of great plight. For instance, one of the most conspicuous examples was the welcome extended to the Huguenots. In today’s west of religious indifferentism, it is possible to forget the magnitude of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacres in August 1572, in which the government of France authorised the killing of perhaps 50,000 people. The state-sponsored acts of barbarous mass murder led to around 100,000 people coming to Britain, many of them bringing skills as varied as silk-weaving and banking. (Seven of the 24 founders of the Bank of England were Huguenots.)
Cynics will say that it is “gesture politics” to offer these mere hundreds of people a refuge in Britain, just as other cynics might even be blinkered and hard-hearted enough to say that, with our own immigration problems, we cannot find room for the unfortunates of other lands. In fact, back then many Brits were skeptical then about the British immigration policy being too generous and that it would somehow hurt the British economy – which of course the opposite happened. Today, the UK has the 5th largest economy and the 3rd largest economy in the EU (European Union) sitting at approximately $2.9 Trillion (GDP Official Exchange Rate). Hence, they have the capacity today to help more refugees than they did some over 70 years or so ago.
However, on the matter regarding the current immigration crisis there is no place for cynicism. In fact, cynics are wrong in every respect. Admittedly, it can be no more than just a gesture – but it is a gesture worth making, not only for the hundreds of Syrians who will be given a chance of a future. It is something worth doing for Britain’s sakes, to remind them of the decent British history of giving refuge to immigrants/refugees in times of need.
In addition, the United States boasts the world’s largest economy, sitting at approximately $17.42 Trillion (GDP – Official Exchange Rate). Like the United Kingdom the United States have in the past extended a generous hand towards helping refugees. For instance, when the Allied victory brought an end to Nazi terror in Europe and to the war in the Pacific it had liberated Jews suffering from illness and exhaustion. Consequently, Jews emerged from concentration camps and hiding places to discover a world which had no place for them.
Bereft of home and family and reluctant to return to their prewar homelands, these Jewish displaced persons (DPs) were joined in a matter of months by more than 150,000 other Jews fleeing fierce antisemitism in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Soviet Union. Most sought to begin a new life outside Europe. Palestine was the most favored destination of Jewish Holocaust survivors, followed by the United States (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2015). Amidst, existing immigration policy in the U.S. that was severely restrictive, President Harry S. Truman favored a liberal immigration policy toward Displaced Persons (DPs). However, faced with inaction from congress, President Truman issued an executive order known as; “Truman Directive” on December 22nd, 1945. The “Truman Directive” required that existing immigration quotas be designated for displaced persons. While overall immigration into the United States did not increase, more DPs were admitted than before. About 22,950 DPs, of whom two-thirds were Jewish, entered the United States between December 22, 1945, and 1947 under provisions of the Truman Directive.
However, by 1952, 137,450 Jewish refugees (including close to 100,000 DPs) had settled in the United States. The amended 1948 law was a turning point in American immigration policy and established a precedent for later refugee crises.
Another reason why the West should really help….
I am no fan of the immutable Vladimir Putin foreign policy, but, both Putin and President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey makes a valid point in regards to Western countries to be blamed for the current immigration crisis. I agree with both President’s to some extent. Both, leader made the point that; Western countries are to be blamed for today’s immigration crisis amidst their Middle East Foreign Policy and of course there is some truths to the said.
The current immigration crisis is a corollary of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and even Prime Minister Tony Blair (UK) Middle East Foreign Policy. However, Vladimir Putin will not escape this one either because his foreign policy in the Middle East, in particular, Syria (Syrian crisis ensued by the Syrian Civil war 2011) is to be blame as well. Putin’s action of supporting Basher Al Assad amidst Russian Arms Company interest RosonboronExport who was selling weapons to the Syrian Government.
But, let’s not get mired in Putin’s action at this point and look at why Western Countries Middle East Foreign policy is to bare some of the blame. For example, Former Vice President Dick Cheney was interviewed by BBC in 1994 and in a nutshell he made the point that; “it would not be wise for America to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.”
“Because what you’ll have is an American occupation and removing Saddam will result in Iraq falling to pieces”. Currently, some 21 years later – in 2015 Iraq have fallen to pieces ensued by “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (2003 Iraq invasion). Yes, the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to take out the same Leader that Vice President Dick Cheney said 9 years earlier not to remove. Albeit, Prime Minister Tony Blair was not the main actor in the 2003 Iraq war, nonetheless he played a vital role in it.
As a result, today desperate men and women, with little children in tow, are fleeing war-ravaged Syria or Iraq in overcrowded and often deadly voyages by land or sea. People are fleeing constant bombardment of their homes from Drones, Aircrafts dropping bombs and of course ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) killing spree rampage. Most importantly, ISIL is in control of some territories in Iraq and Syria in which they imposed it’s understanding of morality and disobedience is met with harsh punishments (Beheadings, rape, etc.)
Finally, some critics make the point that; the Arab Nations are enjoying immunity from excoriation for not helping meanwhile the Western countries are being excoriated by the Media on a daily basis. In my opinion, as I pointed earlier it is one base on “traditionally practices” of Western states and by extension economic power. The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is a group of the wealthiest Arab nation states (6 member states). They include; The United Arab Emirates, The kingdom of Bahrain, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Sultanate of Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Moreover, collectively they boast an economy of approximately $1.7 Trillion which of course still lags behind Britain ($2.9 Trillion) the United States ($17.42 Trillion). So in other words, if the Arab states are to truly help they will have to do it collectively meanwhile the United States and the UK (also whom must bare some the responsibility for this immigration mess) can embark on a mission of “immigration generosity” as single sovereign state.
Nonetheless, the Arab states (especially the oil rich ones) can indeed do more to help in the current immigration crisis (especially the Muslim refugees). For instance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia economy sits at $752. 5 Billion (GDP – Official Exchange Rate). On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates sits at $401.6 billion (GDP – Official Exchange Rate). Admittedly, I agree that Arab countries can indeed hand out a helping hand to quell the current immigration crisis.
Current & concise update on the immigration crisis (as of September 4th, 2015);
Germany is taking in up to 800,000 refugees, Britain pledged to take 4000 more Syrians and has pledged some $100 Million in Humanitarian aid. Moreover, Scotland’s first minister Nichola Sturgeon said Scotland should accept 1,000 refugee as a “first step”, The US has admitted approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the civil war.
However, President Barack Obama pledged $1billion in loans to King Abdullah of Jordan, where more than 650,000 refugees live in massive and often strained tent cities. In 2013, he similarly promised $74m in aid to Lebanon, where more than a million people have fled. Finally, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have rejected any quota system for accepting migrants.
– Emmanuel Quashie