Wednesday, September 9, 2015

France and Britain announce plans to accept more refugees in migrant crisis

French President François Hollande gives the announcement
 during a press conference on Monday.

On Monday, President Hollande announced that his country, France, will accept 24,000 refugees over two years and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. An estimated 381,000 migrants have arrived in Europe in 2015, and about half are from Syria.
Cameron’s plan would likely accept only Syrians from refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, to discourage migrants from risking their lives in the perilous journey into Europe and to avoid favoring the refugees who could afford to pay for the trip into Europe at the cost of those who can not.
There are an estimated 4 million Syrian refugees living in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. (about 1.9 million in Turkey, 1.1 million in Lebanon, 630,000 in Jordan, 250,000 in Iraq, and 130,000 in Egypt, according to the UNHCR.)
Although they constitute the largest group of migrants, not all of the migrants are Syrians. Tens of thousands of Afghans, Etrians, and Nigerians, have come to Europe in 2015. People from these countries would not be included in Cameron’s plan, but might be able to find refuge in France under Hollande’s plan.
Cameron plans to expand the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which would allow the accepted refugees to reside, work, and access public funds in Britain for five years, after which the refugees could apply to settle in the UK.
The 24,000 migrants President François Hollande would let into France would constitute France's part in a plan Hollande is pushing in which each of the 28 EU countries would take a share of 120,000 European migrants over the course of two years. Hollande has also called for “hot spots” to be established along the borders of Greece, Italy and Hungary, countries through which large numbers of migrants are passing. These “hot spots” would process asylum applications there and deny ineligible migrants before they make their way through Europe to countries such as France and Germany.   Both announcements came after a picture of a 3- year- old dead Syrian boy made headlines around the world, increasing international sympathy for the plight of migrants. Named Aylan Kurdi, the boy drowned off of the coast of Turkey after the boat he was on to get to Greece capsized. He was part of a Kurdish family fleeing violence in Syria. The image lead to calls in Europe to let in more refugees, and more pressure on political leaders to allow more refugees in.
Questions: What obligations do nations have in this crisis-- do they still have obligations to help refugees Saudi Arabia and other gulf states (like Qatar and Kuwait) have taken 0 Syrian refugees. Since Gulf states like Saudi Arabia helped fund fighting against Assad in Syria, are they obligated to take in Syrian refugees? Or do nations have no obligations to people of another country, regardless of their circumstances? Are European countries obligated to take in the refugees flooding into the continent? Is a state in which power is ostensibly derived from the people (referring to European parliamentary republics, not Saudi Arabia) obliged only to act in the best interest of its people, or do states have an obligation to help those in the greater global community with dire needs? When those two interests conflict, which should supersede the other?
The US has accepted about 1,500 Syrian refugees thus far and offers to accept 5,000 to 8,000 refugees next year. Should the US let in? Is the US obligated to promote the "general welfare" of humanity as well as her citizens, or does she only have to consider the well- being of her citizens?
All Sources: (in order in which they appear)
hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news (The picture of the Syrian boy can be found in this article. Warning: It is disturbing.)
Source of the image displayed in this post: Reuters.


hlo323 said...
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hlo323 said...

I think that it matters whether people call them "refugees" or "migrants." The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees states that "Refugees are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution," while "migrants choose to move not because of a direct threat of persecution or death, but mainly to improve their lives by finding work, or in some cases for education, family reunion, or other reasons."

Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, 147 countries, including most of the countries in Europe, agreed to not expel refugees to their home country if their life or freedom would be under threat. Furthermore, refugees are to be provided safety from danger, access to asylum, and "measures to ensure that their basic human rights are respected."

The UNHCR also states that even though some people who are travelling to Europe at this time are migrants, most people are refugees, so for the refugee population, I think that the international community does have an obligation to help them, especially since most of the countries in Europe agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Furthermore, I think that even though states are obliged to act in the best interests of their people, in countries such as the UK, Germany, and the US, there have been many calls by people living within the country to let more refugees in.

Juliana Stahr said...

Nations should be obligated to assist other nations in a crisis such as the one dealing with refugees from Syria. Refugees from Syria are not a threat. They simply are in search for a better life and hope to find one elsewhere. The fact that Saudi Arabia and other gulf states have not taken any refugees boggles my mind. During such a state of panic, Europeans should allow the Syrian refugees to enter Europe immediately. Whether Europe allows these refugees to stay temporarily until living conditions improve in Syria or forever, I believe justice is served when neighbors want to be of service to others.

The European parliamentary republics should help those in the greater global community with dire needs to prove to the rest of its people that their government is trustworthy and supportive. The people want to be ruled by a government, which cares in the interests of others and not only for themselves. Manipulative and selfish governments are not wise in gaining the people's approval. When the people feel that the government is being too generous in helping others and the two conflict, the government should always listen to its people. The citizens of a government should always remain a priority, however, when others are in dire need of aid, a government should take that opportunity to help the other nation.

The U.S. is wise in accepting 1,500 Syrian refugees. Not only will this break the stereotype that Americans view the middle east as a constant threat, but will make our government look more accepting as a result. As I stated earlier, the U.S.'s priority is to promote the "general welfare" of humanity of her citizens, but should help others from other nations as well. The U.S., however, is not doing enough. Will the U.S. truly accept 8,000 Syrian refugees into America or is this a simple statement to appease the public? Why isn't the U.S. doing more compared to other countries?

Emma Mester said...

I personally don't think that countries have an obligation to accept refugees. If, as Huayu said, they came to an agreement at the 1951 Refugee Convention, then they should stay to that agreement. Other than that, a country's own people should be its number one priority.
Although I'm assuming these refugees are innocent people in need of help, they can still cause problems. A sudden influx of people into Europe can jostle its already precarious economy. A country should not go above and beyond to open its arms to refugees unless the country itself is already in perfect condition. I don't believe individual countries should be made out to be villains for protecting themselves.

Steven Lee said...

I believe that the United States and Canada should take in more refugees in the mist of all this chaos in the Middle East. Any country that is bombing in Syria has an obligation of taking care of the innocent civilians who are affected by the war. Currently the United States is responsible for about 90% of all the airstrikes in Syria. Canada is also currently bombing Syria but to a lesser degree. Australia, France, and Britain also announced plans that they will start a bombing campaign in the help against ISIS. Currently the Liberal Party of Canada is asking for 25,000 more refugees to be taken in and Obama just released a plan that would take in about 10,000 Syrian refugees. This is not to say that the United States should not stop leading the war against ISIS but the country has an obligation in helping those who are displaced by our actions. One example of when the US took in refugees from one of our wars was Vietnam when the US took in about 250,000 refugees after the fall of Saigon.