Aug 31,2015 – JORDAN TIMES EDITORIAL
The migrant crisis arching the Middle East, Africa and Europe has been described as the worst since World War II; nearly 300,000 people from Africa and the Middle East crossed sea and land into Europe this year alone.
Thousands perished during the arduous trek in search of safety and better life, and the toll will not stop here, as more waves of emigrants can be expected to try to cross into Western Europe.
European leaders seem unable to adopt a common policy to face this crisis even though they were spurred into “action” last April after some 700 emigrants drowned in the Mediterranean en route to Italy’s shores.
Then, it seemed that an agreement was reached in principle to distribute the burden among the European nations. Yet, there was no follow-up.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting last week and called for a “united system” of dealing with the problem.
However, migrants continue to die in droves.
Last week, 71 people were found dead of suffocation in a truck in Austria; they were trying to reach Germany.
Hungary is erecting a razor fence along its border with Serbia to stop the migrants from crossing its territory.
What seems to prevent some European capitals from acting more humanely with the crisis is internal opposition to migrants, mostly from right-wing parties.
Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, with their meager resources, have among them put up no less than four millions Syrian refugee over the past four years.
It is incomprehensible how European countries, rich and with ageing populations, cannot take in much lower numbers of emigrants.
A rational way to go about things now is to try to determine the status of the “migrants”. There will be those who fit in the category of asylum seekers and those who could be classified more appropriately as economic migrants.
The two categories cannot be treated the same, for, international law does not apply equally to the two, but calls for differential treatment.
Processing the migrants correctly may provide a more workable way of dealing with them. It might silence opposition voices and give a chance to those fleeing war in their countries to start anew, safe and secure.