Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Compassionate Pastor's Daughter and the long-term European refugee crisis

Heribert Prantl this past week offered us a pious-sounding defense of Angela Merkel's current refugee policy in Merkels Entschluss verlangt historische Anstrengungen Süddeutsche Zeitung 15.09.2015. What he says sounds reasonable and complimentary to the Chancellor - if you simply ignore the fact that the current refugee crisis has been years in the making.

Die temporäre Wiedereinführung der Grenzkontrollen ist keine Rücknahme der Entscheidung für die Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen; sie war erstens der Versuch, Druck auf andere EU-Länder auszuüben; sie ist zweitens der Versuch, Flüchtlingen klarzumachen, dass es noch andere Aufnahmeländer gibt als Deutschland. Und sie ist drittens der Versuch, Zeit zu gewinnen, um eine national funktionierende Logistik für die Flüchtlinge aufzubauen.

Der Generalplan für die Aufnahme, Verteilung und Integration von Flüchtlingen in Deutschland und Europa fällt nicht über Nacht vom Himmel. Aber an diesem Plan muss mit Kraft, Herz und Verstand gearbeitet werden. Daran fehlt es. Und das ist der Richtlinienkompetenz zweiter Teil: Historische Entscheidungen verlangen historische Anstrengungen. Es reicht nicht, wenn die Kanzlerin ihre Entscheidung mit ungewohnter Verve verteidigt; sie braucht ihre Minister, sie braucht die Gesellschaft dieses Landes, sie muss Verwaltung, Industrie und Wirtschaft gewinnen; dazu die Kirchen, die Wohlfahrtsverbände - die Menschen. Sie braucht das ganze Land.

[The temporary reinstatement of the border controls is not a reversal of the decision to accept refugees; it was, first, an attempt to put pressure on other EU countries; second, it is an attempt to make clear to refugees that there are still other countries than Germany. And, third, it is an attempt to gain time to build up a functioning national system of logistic for the refugees.

The general plan for the acceptance, allocation and integration of refugees in German and Europe will not fall from Heaven overnight. But this plan must be worked out with energy, heart and understanding. Those are missing. And that is the second part of correct guidelines: Historic decisions require historic efforts. It is not enough that the Chancellor defends her decision with unusual verve; she her Ministers, she needs the society of this country, she has to have administration, to gain the support of industry and the economy; as well as the churches the welfare societies - the people. She needs the whole country.]
Prantl presents Merkel in her preferred image as the Compassionate Pastor's Daughter/Mitfühlende Pastorentochter, "Mama Merkel." But the Mitfühlende Pastorentochter needed to be spending the previous years as the crisis developed to promote European cooperation and common agreements on dealing with refugees.

Examples of growing tensions and humanitarian concerns over refugees are not difficult to find in recent years. Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki in 2012, for instance, warned against the social distress and marginalization among migrants in the Berlin area. (Woelki warnt vor sozialen Spannungen Neues Deutschland 31.12.2012)

German policy in previous years sought to marginalize the refugee problem by pushing it onto other EU countries, as Maximilian Popp reminds us in Bad Faith: Berlin Must Reform or Abolish Its Refugee Policy Spiegel International 09/17/2015:

Even before German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann delivered their stern call for European solidarity in Berlin on Tuesday, it was plain to see that the bloc's asylum policy is failing.

For years, the weaknesses of the system have been glaring. ...

It put in place a Darwinian system along Europe's external borders, with asylum law only applying to those who actually reach EU territory. But this is made virtually impossible by European border policy. EU states have erected fences along their edges and built walls designed to deter refugees. There are no safe, legal ways of reaching Europe for people fleeing countries such as Eritrea, Syria and Iraq. They are left with no choice but to pay human smugglers and make the journey in flimsy boats and overcrowded trucks to Europe before they can claim asylum.

If good fortune and hard cash gets them there, the Dublin Regulation then forces them to remain in the state where they first entered the EU. Not even asylum-seekers whose claim has been approved are at liberty to travel. The upshot is that refugees end up festering away in reception centers in Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy amid conditions that organizations such as Human Rights Watch deem deplorable.

For years, Germany was perfectly content with this system. It allowed Berlin to parade a generous asylum law without ever actually having to take in many refugees. In 2007, only 19,000 people applied for asylum in Germany.
The Mitfühlende Pastorentochter took her sweet compassionate time about reforming the refugee problem. Waiting like she does on eurozone economic problems until it reaches an acute stages that forces action. And, if she continues her pattern, she will now cobble together a short-term solution that keeps the underlying problem untouched.

Barry Lando at his blog writes (The Refugee Crisis - A Tale of Insanity - In Two Acts 09/09/2015) about how the United Nations refugee efforts have strained for funds in the face of the Middle East refugee crisis:

It’s a tale of the world’s insanity, in two tragic acts.

First, came the slew of incredibly destructive political and military interventions of America—and some of its allies--in the Greater Middle East over the past few decades. ...

Fleeing those conflagrations, millions gathered their families and ran for their lives, seeking refuge in safer parts of their own countries—as in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan--or in neighboring states, like Jordan and Lebanon and Turkey and Pakistan.
Then came what Lando calls the second act:

At the very moment of greatest need, the waters rising higher than ever before, the U.N. agencies are being gutted, forced to lay off personnel, slash and cut fundamental programs, turn away millions of refugees who had been receiving vital aid; the heads of respected UN agencies literally begging the world for funds to carry on their crippled programs.

So the dikes are collapsing, as the world had been warned for years they would. Understanding that they can no longer count on even temporary sanctuary in their own regions, hundreds of thousands of refugees are flooding towards Europe, advising and guiding one another through the new social media, and thus magnifying the surge.

The major source of refugees currently is Syria. [my emphasis]

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