How long will it take for the European ‘crisis’ to be re-framed as the new norm, and what are the potential consequences of that shift?
Transition, not crisis
When things go wrong, we generally tend to speak of crisis. Yet, the term ‘crisis’ refers to the ‘exceptional’, to a harmful turmoil that will sooner or later diminish to a parenthesis before returning to normality. Well, this is not the case anymore. The reality we live in is not a human rights crisis. It is a new era. It is a transition: nowhere as visible as in the collective condition of vulnerability that saturates global politics from Sub-Saharan Africa and South America to the Far and Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. Seeing the juncture as a transition, as a chain of causes and consequences, implies that we should conceptualise the ‘crisis’ as a meaningful movement away from and not toward democracy.
The United States has agreed to resettle refugees stranded in Pacific island camps after failing to reach Australia.
Under current Australian law, individuals who attempt to reach the country illegally by boat are either intercepted in the water and turned away or, if they reach the shore, are removed from Australia for processing in the impoverished nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, a small Pacific island.
The camps in which migrants wait for processing have been criticized by rights groups as cramped and squalid. This spring a man and a woman in Nauru set themselves on fire in protest, and many other attempts at suicide among asylum seekers have been recorded.
This week Greek officials agreed to deport a Syrian refugee back to Turkey. Without guarantees that his rights will be protected this risks contravening the EU’s established rules on asylum and human rights.
Greece is obligated to do so under the EU-Turkey deal agreed on 20 March 2016 where Turkey agreed to take back migrants and police its borders in exchange for $6bn and improved visa conditions for Turks in Europe.
The deal was intended to curb the flow of migrants arriving from Turkey to Greece and Italy. The effect has been short-lived. The recent attempted coup in Turkey led to the withdrawal of Turkish police and liaison officers from the Greek islands and saw a new rise in arrivals.
Pakistani authorities should cease coercive measures and other abuses that are driving tens of thousands of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, Human Rights Watch said today. The Pakistani government should extend legal residency status to Afghan refugees until at least December 31, 2017.
“Pakistani authorities are increasingly committing abuses against Afghan refugees that are triggering a mass refugee return,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should rein in its abusive security forces and ensure the refugees secure status and protection.”
Two years ago, the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) swept across northern Iraq in a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing against minority communities.
They abducted thousands of Yezidi men, women and children forcing them to convert to Islam and killed hundreds of men in cold blood. Captured women and girls were subjected to torture, including rape, forcibly married, ‘sold’ or given as ‘gifts’ to IS fighters or their supporters and forced into sexual slavery. Boys were separated from their families and sent to training military camps.
An estimated 3,800 Yezidi women and children still remain captive. Hundreds of thousands are internally displaced in Iraq. Many others became refugees.
As refugees take the Olympic stage, the wars that sent them running for their lives continue apace.
It was after midnight when the small refugee Olympic team strode into the stadium in Rio, the very last before host country Brazil’s huge contingent danced in to the samba-driven opening ceremonies. Ten amazing athletes, originally from four separate countries but sharing their status as unable to return home, marching under the Olympic flag.
It was an extraordinary sight — moving and powerful far beyond the cheering for the national teams.
Some of them — the young Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini in particular — had become familiar to many, her story told and retold in the run up to the games. It was an amazing story indeed. She and her sister, both top swimmers in their native Syria, had been forced by the brutality of the civil war to flee. Like so many hundreds of thousands before and after them, they managed to find places on an overcrowded rubber dinghy for the last leg from the Turkish coast to safety in Greece.