If you do a Google search, this is what comes up.
In response to what we’ve termed the “migrant crisis”, The Economist newspaper published an essay on the correct term for these so-called migrants. Here’s the link:
This article was released a couple of weeks ago, but that doesn’t necessarily make it old news. Germany, as we know, has volunteered to take in 800,000 Syrian migrants, whereas the anti-immigrant United Kingdom has very generously offered to take a WHOPPING
20,000. Kya baat. (insert “Wah!” sticker from Facebook).
So apparently, migrant isn’t exactly the term we should be using, according to The Economist. Feel free to click the link above and read through it, while I summarise it for you and attempt to give an intelligent opinion.
Hundreds and thousands people from particularly troubled areas of the Middle East, most notably and notoriously from Syria, are making there way to what they believe is Europe; the land of free and plenty, the land of free speech, the land of safety. Instead they’ve been attacked by kicking camerawomen, tear gassed, starved, dehydrated, abandoned, separated from their children, drowned, washed ashore, discriminated against and withstood the terrible ires of racist (both direct and implicit) comments from politicians who fail to realise what it feels like to lose everything. Even hope.
Media outlets, supposedly due to a “lack of time” (as told in the article), have barely described why people are fleeing. But we know why. War, threats to lives and livelihood, better lives for the next generation. Some have even heard that income and healthcare are given to those who cannot find work in Europe. If I were a Syrian, that would sound like paradise to me.
Because of the media’s need to get on the story, and not spend hours analysing who these people are, they call them migrants.
(NOTE: Before someone points out that I probably shouldn’t criticise the media because I’ve worked at two prestigious media outlets, I’m going to clarify something. Yes, the media outlets I’ve worked at and ones I support have done a fabulous job at covering issues that matter to people. It’s inevitable that people make mistakes, even world-class news sources. End of clarification)
As I was saying, we call them migrants. As the article points out, migration is something we do voluntarily. My friend migrated to Canada to study and build a life there, people migrate from other places to Hong Kong to purchase a better quality of life, people migrate because their multinational corporations put them in positions elsewhere. This people are usually called immigrants, or emigrants. No one migrates because they’re fleeing a war-torn country. No. We call people who do flee war-torn counties with threats to their lives “refugees”.
According to international convention, a refugee cannot be sent home due to the chaos and mortal peril they face in their home country. So headlines claiming that the generous United Kingdom deported a certain number of refugees would basically be breaking international law. In the UK’s mind, these people were illegal immigrants, not refugees.
Here is the link to the aforementioned article.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also states that if a person has a well-founded fear of being wrongfully persecuted, or faces conditions that threaten their lives, then they can be counted as refugees. So, in an effort by international institutions and developed countries, this contributes to the international law that refugees cannot be sent back home.
Those who can be deported are termed “asylum-seekers”; people seeking refugee status but haven’t acquired it as yet. The word “asylum-seeker” acts as a loophole for those anti-migration politicians, including those from Hungary and the wonderfully generous United Kingdom.
Then there are economic or illegal immigrants, such as those who cross the border from Mexico to the United States of America. Moving due to improved economic prospects seems like a pretty logical thing to do. These people are then labelled “undocumented”, or according to the likes of Donald Trump, “rapists”. Mr. Trump happens to employ some illegal immigrants. I mean, really, where would he get the cheap labour and large profits from anyway? How did he recover from bankruptcy? One possible answer are his beloved illegal immigrants.
As a quote from a spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights puts it (quoted in the article), “the boundaries of human experience are not as well-ordered or as neatly separated as our finely drawn legal categories would like them to be.”
Economic migrants could likely be facing injustice at the hands of poverty and exploitation. Asylum-seekers could be fleeing a country where they face oppression from their local people. The Syrian refugees are fleeing for their lives from hell on earth. Either way, we need to treat them all as human beings.
So far, priority has gone to Syrian refugees, as it should. We’ve ignored the Syrian crisis for too long and the West owes them their entire lives. I hope as many of the refugees’ stories are as successful as the man who got a coaching job in Madrid, after he was tripped over.
Aid needs to go to the Syrians, granted. However, I think it’s about time the West fixed what needs to be fixed to give migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, human beings of any kind as least some temporary support. Instead of “building a wall which the Mexicans will pay for”, why can’t the diplomats and international governing institutions come to a decision on how to at least temporarily accommodate people from troubled areas?
I guess the West’s previous involvement with Iraq caused them to be adverse towards any action in the Middle East. They’re now taking strikes against ISIS, but not much is really being done in Syria. ISIS has blown up Palmyra, Bashar al-Assad doesn’t seem to have a moral conscience and the rebels are growing fewer and fewer by the day. A group of them were recently armed, and I admire their courage. But how do you go on?
Words are clouding judgement on this issue. I beseech the European Union to ignore terminology. It doesn’t make you sound more authoritative. In fact, the world’s reverence for Germany and Angela Merkel has grown, thanks to Mrs. Merkel’s snap decision to be a good human being. For now, it looks as if Germany and Austria are support her and our Syrian comrades. I genuinely hope Merkel can find jobs for the 800,000 people she is welcoming. The world is already anticipating what this will do to Germany’s employment and social welfare. Germany, however, has a stronger legal and social system than most in the region.
Let’s hope the Germans can inspire some humanity to politicians in neighbouring nations.
EDIT: Here’s a succinct video on the refugee crisis that everyone needs to see.