Friday, April 13, 2018

Syria war escalation and the European refugee crisis

I began this post before the news a few minutes ago that the US, Britain, and France are making some kind of military strike on Syria. My Congresswoman's initial reaction:

My preferred Democratic California Senator candidate reacted:

Sadly, the question about Congressional authorization is rhetorical. I hope it will change, sooner rather than later.

Britain and France decided to join Trump in this military escalation in Syria. Angela Merkel has saids Germany won't participate. (Maxime Schlee, Merkel rules out German participation in military strike on Syria Politico EU 04/12/1)

Robert Fisk is always worth reading on Middle Eastern military adventures. In As Theresa May gears up for war in Syria, we should remember what hypocrites we are about chemical warfare in the Middle East Independent 04/12/2018. He tends to take a dim view about NATO countries declaring their high-minded reasons to justify military intervention there.
So there we are. [British Prime Minister Teresa] May holds a “war cabinet”, for heaven’s sakes, as if our losses were mounting on the Somme in 1916, or Dorniers were flying out of occupied France to blitz London in 1940.

What is this childish prime minister doing? Older, wiser Conservatives will have spotted the juvenile quality of this nonsense, and want a debate in Parliament. How could May follow an American president who the world knows is crackers, insane, chronically unstable, but whose childish messages – about missiles that are “nice and new and ‘smart’” – are even taken seriously by many of my colleagues in the US? We should perhaps be even more worried about what happens if he does turn away from the Iran nuclear deal.

It continues to surprise me that European political discussions of the refugee crisis refer so little to the role of NATO wars in the Greater Middle East. And that European discussions of military strikes, interventions, and regime change refer so infrequently to the significant effects on the refugee crisis that those wars have.

But in reality, when Britain and France talk about military intervention in the Middle East or Northern Africa, they are talking about something like to significantly increase the number of refugees trying to come to Europe. And not just to Europe.

The UN Refugees website as of this date provides the following graphics on refugees:
The graph on the right apparently applies only to the three countries show in the middle graphic.

The website also provides this information:
The conflict in Syria, now in its seventh year, was the world’s biggest producer of refugees (5.5 million). Humanitarian needs in Syria have increased significantly since the beginning of the crisis, with 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 6 million children. Over 400,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million injured since 2010.

Many Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, often multiple times, making Syria the largest displacement crisis in the world with 6.3 million people internally displaced and almost 4 million people registered as refugees in neighboring countries. An estimated 4.53 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in hard-to-reach areas and besieged locations.

Turkey hosts over 2.9 million registered Syrians. The majority of them live in urban areas, with around 260,000 accommodated in the 21 government-run refugee camps. There are more than a million registered Syrians in Lebanon and 660,000 in Jordan. Iraq has also seen a growing number of Syrians arriving, hosting more than 241,000, while in Egypt UNHCR provides protection and assistance to more than 122,000. [my emphasis]
South Sudan is also a significant source of regugees: "In 2016, the disastrous break-off of peace efforts in July in South Sudan contributed to an outflow of 737,400 people by the end of the year. That number has continued to rise during the first half of 2017."

This article from the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR gives the following description of the refugee situation in Syria, Syria conflict at 7 years: ‘a colossal human tragedy’ 03/09/2018:
The relentless suffering of Syrian civilians marks a shameful failure of political will and a new low in Syria’s long-running conflict, which this month reaches a depressing seventh anniversary, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Friday.

“This seven-year war has left a colossal human tragedy in its wake. For the sake of the living, it is high time to end this devastating conflict. There are no clear winners in this senseless pursuit of a military solution. But the losers are plain to see – they are the people of Syria,” he added.

Seven years of fighting have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, driven 6.1 million people from their homes inside Syria, and forced 5.6 million refugees to seek safety in neighbouring countries in the region.

The conditions faced by civilians inside Syria are worse than ever, with 69 per cent languishing in extreme poverty. The share of families spending more than half of their annual income on food has risen to 90 per cent, while food prices are on average eight times higher than pre-crisis levels. Some 5.6 million people endure life-threatening conditions in terms of their security, basic rights or living standards, and require urgent humanitarian assistance. [my emphasis]

And the United States? Dara Lind reports in The US has all but slammed the door on Syrian refugees Vox 04/13/2018:
In the last years of the Obama administration, the US resettled tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. When Trump took office, that number plummeted — partly because of the 120-day “refugee ban” that prevented nearly any refugees from being brought into the US over the summer of 2017, and partly because of specific scrutiny facing refugees from several countries, including Syria.

The result is that the US is on pace to resettle fewer than 100 Syrian refugees in the fiscal year that ends September 30. And it might not even be that many.

Chris Hayes was retweeting this:

The US was taking only a trickle of Syrian refugees under the Obama Administration. But, "almost as soon as Trump took the oath of office, his administration slammed the door shut" on them.

The German statistical office reports that at the end of 2017, Germany had a total of 10.6 million people in Germany with only a non-German citizenship. (Ausländische Bevölkerung wächst im Jahr 2017 um 5,8 % 12.04.2018) Most of them come out of other EU countries, especially Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. They show the foreign population of the country growing from 8.2 million to 10.0 million from 2014 to 2016. 2015 was the acute phase of the chronic refugee crisis that generated political unrest in Europe, although about 500,000 of that growth was from the EU-28 states.

Spiegel Online reports (Zahl der Ausländer auf 10,6 Millionen gestiegen 12.04.2018 ) that the number of Syrian refugees coming into Germany dropeed from 260 thousand in 2016 to 61 thousand in 2017. the number from Afghanistan dropeed from 119 thousand in 2016 to five thousand in 2017. The national statistics office indicates that some of the refugees coming in 2015 appear in the figures as though they arrived in 2016. The real drop in Syrian and Afghan refugees was from 2015 to 2017.

Der Standard reports that an EU payment payment due under the EU's 2015 agreement with Turkey, which is a very large part of the solution to the refugee problem. A classic Angela Merkel extend-and-pretend "solution." Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, and Sweden are all pushing to have it come out of the EU budget. With some grumbling to be heard about how Merkel crammed the thing down everyone's else's throats. (Adelheid Wölfl, Flüchtlingsabkommen mit Türkei: Merkel soll an EU vorbeiverhandelt haben 12.04.2018)

See also:

Dominik Peters und Maximilian Popp, Für Flüchtlinge die Hölle - für die EU ein Partner Spiegel Online 12.04.2018

Kickl will Asylanträge auf europäischem Boden verhindern Die Presse 11.04.2018

Thomas Mayer, EU-Türkei-Deal: Merkel allein gegen fast alle Der Standard 12.04.2018

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