Part 1 of 12: Fear of Refugees – HRW Cites Violations
Kenneth Roth, E.D. HRW (Feb. 1, 2015). Edited/Photos by Alistair Reign.
Fear stood behind many of the big human rights developments of the past year.
“Fear of being killed or tortured in Syria and other zones of conflict and repression drove millions from their homes. Fear of what an influx of asylum seekers could mean for their societies led many governments in Europe and elsewhere to close the gates. Fear of mounting terrorist attacks moved some political leaders to curtail rights and scapegoat refugees or Muslims. And fear of their people holding them to account led various autocrats to pursue an unprecedented global crackdown on the ability of those people to band together and make their voices heard.” said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch in his summary of their annual World Report 2016.
The report outlines and draws attention to the human rights concerns that took place in 2015 – majority of which have continued to escalate in 2016.
“Focus on the need, not the numbers,” says Christian Aid.
“The media of late has been full of stories of desperate people arriving in Europe, with the press focus largely concentrating on the growing numbers, rather than the conflict, injustice and oppression from which many are escaping.
“The public debate which has accompanied such graphic depictions of human need is evidence of how uncomfortable the scenes have made us feel as a nation. But in truth, the reaction of many in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe has been far from sympathetic.” states Christian Aid on their website. 
“The desperate flight of refugees and asylum seekers from unending violence and abuse in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, and their limited chance to secure adequate work, housing, schooling, and legal status in neighboring countries, will lead many to attempt to reach Europe one way or another.
“The question is whether they arrive in an orderly fashion that permits security screening, or chaotically through smugglers.” said Roth.
“The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, if adequately supported, could increase its capacity to screen refugees and refer them to resettlement countries. … so there is no urgent need for refugees to board rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean, where some
- 3,770 (people) drowned in 2015,
- 1/3 of them (the dead refugees) were children.
“Here, too, a more orderly process, with all EU countries living up to their pledges to accept asylum seekers, would permit more effective screening, while providing a safer route as an incentive for asylum seekers to participate.
“In addition, it could help to replace the current Dublin Regulation, which imposes responsibility for asylum seekers on first-arrival countries, which include some of the EU members least capable of managing them.” he continues.
“Europe is not alone in adopting a counterproductive approach to refugees, especially those from Syria.
“In the US, some officials and politicians have been denouncing Syrian refugees as a security threat even though the handful permitted into the US have gone through an intensive two-year screening process involving numerous interviews, background checks by multiple US agencies, and biometric data.
“That is hardly an attractive route for would-be terrorists, who are more apt to enter as students or tourists subject to much lower scrutiny.
“Of all people entering the US, refugees are the most heavily vetted,” reports Roth.
“Yet, 30 governors in the US tried to bar Syrian refugees from being resettled in their states.
“The idea was even floated (though broadly rejected) of blocking Muslim non-citizens from entering the country (USA) altogether.”
However Roth adds, “Canada, under its new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, offered a very different initial response:
“accelerating the reception of 25,000 Syrian refugees and spreading them to a largely warm welcome across all 10 provinces.
“Setting a tone of respect over fear and distrust, he personally greeted the first planeload of refugees at the airport.”
Read the recent statement Prime Minister Trudeau made at the annual World Economic Forum in regards to Canada’s response to the global refugee crisis.
References Human Rights Watch: Twin Threats
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