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The goal of this study is to address different important aspects of the evolving problem of unprecedented refugee influx into Europe. Around 1.2 million people came to Europe to seek asylum from all over the world, and Germany vowed to take care of 800,000 people. Some terrorist attacks have occupe the capitals of the western European countries of France and Germany (as in the initial findings of initial inquiries and media reports). In this perspective it becomes essential for the students of Sociology to investigate all the possible social aspects and other related factors that can become a real-time threat and danger for the security and safety of European societies and communities. Therefore, it is important to perform extensive piece of research work with regards to the probable social and community specific problems that have arisen due to the large number of refugees on European soil. This research paper is written as an attempt to provide a substantial piece of investigation and finding backed with some strong argument(s) to understand the root causes behind the ‘refuge seeking’ phenomenon and its possible connection with the potential threat to the European societies.
In the post-Syrian war and North African conflicts a large number of refugees are trying to take refuge in the Western Europe. This unprecedented influx of refugees from conflict zones is becoming a source to export ‘radicalization’ & ‘security breaches’ to the societies of countries they take refuge. In the new political evolving scenario of United States after 2016 Presidential Elections, up-coming elections in many Western countries in 2017 & the recent wave of terrorist attacks in France and Germany, US and its Western allies needs to consider devising and implementing a comprehensive & strict ‘Refugee specific Immigration & National Security Policy’ to keep their societies safe and secure.
Background information on how that problem developed or came into existence
The second decade of twenty first century started with the ongoing Iraq crisis that had further expanded at regional front by emerging in Syria. The unidirectional Syrian crisis further heated up by the involvement of international players and war went on. This resulted in political unrest among other Arab and North African nations and another new political phenomenon of Arab Spring started. The Arab Spring brought some unprecedented circumstances or the local populations of these countries and also minorities such as Christians had to suffer a lot during this turmoil. The Arab Spring movement reached at its peak when a Tunisian man had set himself on fire in public during an anti-government protest. The entire region became the witness of this Arab Spring and religious outbidding started to evolve throughout the Middle East.
Refugees problem arise under the shadows and shades of political unrest and unresolved conflicts among various global and regional player countries. The twentieth and twenty first centuries remain noticeable in terms of wars escalated at global level. When there are wars going on the subsequent civilian population of the warzones start to get affected on an immediate level. In the post 2011 scenario, most of people from war zones such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and Sudan try to make their ways to other peaceful regions and countries of the world. The refugee crisis has grown at a large scale as these conflicts have heated up in the past years due to active involvement of the regional and international militaries fighting their wars against each other through exploitation of local tribal and sectarian fault lines and using local proxies. Turkey and European Union are on the front line countries to deal with this refugee crisis as they are located nearby all these conflict and war affected zones. In the scenario the minorities such Christians, civilian population, children and women had to face persecution and very difficult situations due to the narrow mindedness and cruel acts perused by the fighting groups (Toft, 2013). They started to think about migrating from the war zones and settle somewhere else in the world that is safe and financially much viable. For this reason most of them started coming to the Europe and German asylum friendly laws were best for these refugees to get benefited from in order to stay at least on European soil.
Why the recent refugee crisis in Europe is a societal problem
In 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel had pointed out towards the importance of immigration and asylum specific issues as the ones that would pre-occupy the European politics. There is clear marginalization among the European politicians and intellectuals over the understanding of refugees’ specific problems. Majority seem to understand the possible adverse outcomes in terms of security breach and financial consequences in the medium and long term for the Europe. There are only some liberal intellectuals who dream of a borderless world and they try to support the policy of blindly granting refuge and asylum to the incoming refugees on humanitarian grounds. But, these people are strongly opposed by voices such as German Pegida movement which is against the 'Islamisation of West' by an undeclared cultural invasion. The word 'Pegida' is symbolic that stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of West". The French intellectual and historian Benjamin Stora considers immigration challenge as a way to develop understanding of other culture and it is applicable to both sides. The French demographer and historian François Héran indicated that in the year 2014 Europe surpassed the United States in hosting the migrating individuals from all over world. In the population of 508 million Europeans, around 1.9 million immigrants were added whereas the United States during that year hosted around 1 million legal immigrants. These figures indicate about clearly a changing demography for the Europe and it is more of now considered as a continent of migration.
The world’s most vibrant and developed countries such as US and Western Europe with the legacy of most democratic and liberal values are usually ideal destination for the refugees. Apart from the war affected areas many people who are exploited by their local societies due to financial unjust or other problems try to make their way to get to the western countries as refugees. The European society and government facilitated the genuine cases among the refugees to the best extent and they were always welcome. However, most of the refugees and undocumented individual who were allowed to enter in the country tend to develop an adverse approach of following illegal practices and methods to stay and work within the country. The adverse and illegal policies pursued by refugees have created many problems for European citizens and even for themselves. For instance, it is a common practice among the illegal and undocumented individuals who managed somehow to set foot on the European soil that they tend to hide their medical problems out of fear to get exposed to the authorities. They even do not report healthcare issues happened to their families, children and women. This has become a serious matter of concern for the civil society, healthcare authorities and for the state governments. Moreover, the crime rate and threat to the national security has increased because of their presence in the European countries. They also adversely affect the wages and business opportunities in many ways (Nougayrède, 2016). As a result, the positive attitude of US nation towards its exemplary tolerance and liberal values is slowly changing.
Statistics and Figures on the Problems
Wars are deadly for the communities and societies of human beings. Considering the current Middle Eastern crisis, Iran-Iraq war was a past unforgettable and unfortunate event that affected the Iranian nation badly. Iran’s citizens had to leave their homes because of ongoing war and bombs coming to civilian areas at large scale. The impact of Middle Eastern wars is devastating for the people of region. Considering the Iran-Iraq war and these ongoing conflicts going on in the region 300 thousand lives were lost. Out of these 300 thousand people around 96 thousand people are from Middle East. The brutal wars and conflicts go in no one’s favor and became a reason of generation of large number of refugees. These refugees include both the internally displaced persons and those who had to get out of a country to another as refugee (Mousavia & Soroushd, 2014).
Refugees’ influx entering Europe is a serious concern for the European intellectuals and intelligentsia. It will be key electoral issue and concern for the European candidates contesting in the upcoming elections of 2017. The candidates will face tough questions on how to deal with this unprecedented flow of refugees entering in Europe and should the European countries need to enforce strict immigration policies about the new people who want to come in Europe. This political aspect makes the matter very much social as these politicians will have to convince the people and segments of societies on this important matter so that they can get votes.
The figures are alarming to look at concerning the rapid influx of refugees entering and seeking asylum from various parts of world. Figure 1 shows statistics of refugees that went to various European destinations in order to get refuge. Figure 2 shows the asylum claims reported only for the year 2015 (BBC, 2017). Figure 3 illustrates a more comprehensive view by presenting statistics of refugees and asylum seekers from 1980 to the year 2014 (UNHCR, 2017).
Figure 1: The various destinations in Europe that were selected by refugees in the year 2013.
Figure 2: Asylum claims reported during 2015.
Figure 3: Asylum seekers who attempted to come to Europe during 1980 to 2014.
Proposed Solution to the Problem and Argument in its Support
Political unrest, human rights violations, financial problems, wars, food deprivation and shortage of resources or unjust distribution of resources in the third world countries are primary problems faced by common people living in those countries now-a-days. The main reason for the start of refugee crisis is lack of corruption free governance and rule of law in the third world countries. These third world countries lack with the capacity to deal with their economic problems and build institutions. There are no food security policies made by governments in order to look after the basic food specific needs of their population. The rapid and unplanned increase in population affects the overall global demographic picture and thus many people from such countries also try to reach out to seek refuge in developed countries. This is serious matter of concern as it has resulted in the displacement of large number of people from their homes due to shortage of food supplies and adequate financial resources. There are also issues with regards to their irrigation and agricultural policies in the developing countries that is resulting in shortage of food supplies at national and regional levels. The problem of contaminated water, droughts and natural disasters also caused the food deprivation problem more severe. Thus refugees moving to such countries cannot stay there and they further make their way to a developed country (Hathaway, 2014).
The terrorist and radical groups find a solid ground to group themselves on the soil of ‘failing states’ such Iraq, North Africa, Yamen and Syria. These radical groups serve as proxy by many regional and international players as undercover proxies in fighting against each other. This phenomenon has made the situation more complex in the war affected countries. For example, the ISIS and Al Nusra Front (the alleged Syrian chapter of Al Qaeda) emerged and started to kill people ruthlessly in Iraq and Syria by developing their roots on ground by exploiting the financial deprivation and anti-westernization. The local civilian population had no choice except to flee or face bullets from these ruthless terror groups. Likewise, the anti-Asad regime fighting forces and President Asad’s loyal forces backed by Russians also fought among each other and civilians had no other choice to expect blind mortar shells, bullets or bombs from skies. The terrorist groups used civilian population as human shield and as a result influx of refugees entering in Turkey and Europe started to increase as the conflict became worst (Teson, 2016). But, it is unfortunate that the radicalization and anti-western thoughts injected among the ignorant and frustrated youth by the radical terror groups. Further the sleeping cells of radical groups that have presence in Europe try to exploit the situation by establishing connections and hidden culprits fleeing from the war zones in disguise of refugees. Overall, the intelligence and national security apparatus of the European countries are challenged with the great threat of safeguarding the European society and communities from any possible terror attack. These European security agencies are playing a great role in confronting and unfolding underground terror networks from time to time. But, it is important for the policy makers and the concerned legislatives to play their role as well by understanding the potential threat and chances of compromising security breaches by allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees to enter Europe. Following are some salient features of a proposed solution that should be considered to adequately counter with the social and cultural challenges posed by the refugees to the western civilization and Europe:
Constitution of a central working group that involves inducting intellectuals, politicians, lawyers, social activists, demographers and security analysts from Europe, United States, Canada and other pro-western styled cultures such as Australia & New Zealand: This working group should start working on laying out foundation for a recommendation report that can provide extensive and substantial practical options that are available for the Europe to devise a macro and micro level social, political, legal and cultural policy on dealing with the refugees.
Campaign of social activism and launching a ‘Social Awareness Program’: ’The members of central working group should devise a ‘social awareness program on the security challenges posed to the West due to the refugees’ by considering and involving volunteers, students, community leaders and social activists. This social awareness program should be communicated to the people at grass root level by conducting seminars, workshops, and social events on a periodic basis.
Reaching out to the Public Figures and Politicians of United States & Europe: The members of central working group should contact each political and public figure of Europe to communicate the recommendations and summary of concerns and potential threats as a member of European culture and society.
Interaction with the Liberal Internationalists and Human Rights Activists: There should be interactions and dialogues with the liberal intellectuals and human rights activists who present the argument to welcome the refugees and making world borderless place. They should be communicated the potential threats and security concerns due to the unconditional and blind inclusion of members of another civilization into the western culture and society.
Using the digital media and information technology to reach out to society and people: The members of central working group should create a dedicated website and at least one official account on the various social media websites. All the proceedings of activities of working group and documents floated during the process of convincing society should be placed on the website under ‘Download’ section.
Formation of a Standing Committee of Researchers, Intellectuals and Academia: The members of central working group should create a standing committee of intellectuals and academia who may be given task to conduct research on this subject and publish research oriented articles and papers in various journals, periodicals and other research publishing platforms.
Conclusion & Final Analysis
Recently, Germany and France had witnessed some terrorist attacks that make the situation further alarming. This research provides a deep insight into the evolving refugee crisis for the US allies in the Western Europe. The researchers have investigated some astonishing facts that surround around the US’s policy towards standing with its allies in the European Union and United Kingdom. There is an internal drift going on among European Union members over the methods to deal with the unprecedented influx of refugees. The current internal political situation in UK is also a matter of concern for US after the referendum about country’s policy on leaving or staying with the EU (Ignatieff & McCammon, 2016). In the post-Syrian war and North African conflicts a large number of refugees are trying to make their way to the Western Europe. This unprecedented influx of refugees from conflict zones is becoming a source to export ‘radicalization’ & ‘security breaches’ to the societies of countries they take refuge. In the new political evolving scenario of United States after 2016 Presidential Elections, up-coming elections in many Western countries in 2017 & the recent wave of terrorist attacks in France and Germany, US and its Western allies needs to consider devising and implementing a comprehensive & strict ‘Refugee specific Immigration & National Security Policy’ to keep their societies safe and secure. This study proposes some substantial solution mechanisms that can be adopted to deal with this societal problem and challenge well in time. This is right time to start an active social campaign on the matter of resolving refugee crisis as there are elections in next year in many countries of Europe. The conservative forces and nationalists are most likely to be in the parliaments and they should consider the resolution of this serious natured problem as number one priority.
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