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Authorities fear there are no more survivors of a fishing boat that capsized late last week off the Libyan coast. The boat carried some 600 migrants; officials say more than 200 drowned. The U.N. said that so far this year, at least 224,000 thousand migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Many are fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. Greece and Italy have been particularly hard hit by the influx. We look at how the wave of migration has created major political, social and economic challenges for European nations.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A recent survey shows nearly 40 percent of Europeans believe immigration is the EU's biggest problem, but human rights groups and migration policy experts are critical of the way EU leaders are handling the huge influx of migrants and refugees. So far this year, more than 200,000 have arrived in Europe by sea. Joining me in the studio to talk about Europe's migrant crisis, Demetrios Papademetriou of the Migration Policy Institute, Brian Hansford of the UN High Commission for Refugees and Alan Kraut of the American University.
MS. DIANE REHMBut first, joining us by phone from London, Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times. Katrin, it's good to have you with us. I know you've been covering the influx of migrants into Europe. Give us an overview of what's going on.
MS. KATRIN BENNHOLDHi, Diane. It's a pleasure to be on. Yeah, it's been quite a hectic summer. We've seen, just in the last few days, more news of thousands of new arrivals. The Italian Coast Guard alone rescued some 700 -- well, about 700, 670 migrants, I believe, in a single day. We hear that the Greek Coast Guard has rescued 1,000 -- nearly 1,500 in about three days. And then, of course, last year, as you mentioned in your promo, last week, we had this terrible -- latest terrible news of an accident where a boat capsized and some 200 migrants have drowned.
MS. KATRIN BENNHOLDIt's basically a crisis engulfing all of Europe. We've seen the migrants trickling all the way up to the north of France. It's kind of the last stop along this sometimes very long journey. These people have been on the road and, obviously, on sea for sometimes months and in some cases, years. I've been down to the camp in Calais, which has been the cause of much discussion here in Britain, in particular, and also on France where a relatively small number, it has to be said, of migrants, people estimate between 3 and 5,000, which is about one percent of the total influx coming into Europe, has cause quite a lot of disruption.
MS. KATRIN BENNHOLDBut more importantly, it has cause a political storm and a sort of backlash that is noteworthy. You mentioned the 40 percent figure. I think there's quite a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment in the population, but one has to ask the question where that sentiment comes from and the leaders in many countries don't necessarily help. The British Prime Minister David Cameron recently referred to the people in Calais as a sort of swarm of migrants coming towards Britain. It's that sort of language that has created a sense here that we're being overrun.
REHMTell me about the migrant camp in Calais called "The Jungle."
BENNHOLDIt was a fascinating experience for me to take a train from London, one of the richest cities in the West, it took me exactly one hour, nine minutes to arrive in Calais and then another maybe 12 minutes by cab. And you arrive in this place and seriously, Diane, I've seen refugee camps elsewhere in the world and this looked as bad, if not worse, than some of the places I've seen in Lebanon or Turkey. It doesn't have the provision that you would normally see with the UNHCR, you know, the sort of blankets and pots and pans and so on, that the basic standard's met.
BENNHOLDHere, you have a situation where people make do with tents made from canvas and donated wood and some black plastic and they've got about 30 porta-toilets for 3,000, as I said, about, migrants. So, you know, the international standards aren't being met and it's quite a surreal experience being in this place in the middle of the so-called First World that is really very much under resourced.
BENNHOLDAnd then, the second thing that struck me just briefly is the kind of people I met on the ground there.
BENNHOLDThey are extremely similar to most of us here on this program, I would say. A lot of the people I met were highly educated and certainly skilled. I met a lawyer. I met a plumber. I met a doctor. I met a teacher. These are people who are often expelled from situations that wouldn't have been that different from our lives, you know, where they lost their house, sometimes members of their family or they face political prosecution and they took the step where they risked not only their lives, often paying thousands of dollars in fees to traffickers along the way, either with money they had saved up or actually with forced labor.
BENNHOLDSome of those tales I've heard were quite horrific. And, you know, you see children among them. You see pregnant women. It's really -- it's extraordinary, in fact, to experience it firsthand.
REHMTell me where they migrants in Calais are coming from.
BENNHOLDSo they were all from places that have recently experienced upheaval, whether it's the sort of obvious places where war is raging as we speak in Syria or, well, in parts of Afghanistan, which really has been a problem for, you know, for as long as anyone can remember, really. They are places that are less in the news, but equally difficult, like Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, where people living in failed states where they haven't got a life to speak of and they're often oppressed and political oppression, in particular, is quite serious.
REHMI must say every single night on the international news, I was hearing about the migrants attempting to get from France to the UK through the Channel Tunnel. Why are so many trying to get into the UK?
BENNHOLDSo first of all, I would say it's important to remember, as I said initially, this is quite a small chunk of the total, 3,000 or even if it's 5,000 at the higher end of the estimation. You know, compared to the 200 to 300,000 figures, again, depending on who you believe, of people who've come into Europe, it's not that many who, in the end, want to make it to Britain. Many, even in Calais, are studying French. For example, there's now a school that's been set up in July by a migrant, a Nigerian migrant.
BENNHOLDThey want to stay in France. They've applied for asylum in France, but these things take months, sometimes years. So not everybody's trying to get to Britain. And that's also something that I think is getting lost in the bake here in Britain 'cause it seems like every single person -- it's described as if every single person wants to come to Britain. But there are a lot in Calais who do want to make it to Britain so you are right to ask the question. The things -- I've asked this question many times on the ground and the things that have been mentioned mostly to me were language for one.
BENNHOLDSome of these migrants have very little language skills, but the one language they speak a little bit is English. The second thing is that there seems to be some of them that have family or friends who've already made it there so there's a network that they can join. The pound, weirdly, has been mentioned. I don't know if the coverage of the euro crisis has been so abysmal everywhere in the world, but that is one reason. But seriously that's been mentioned.
BENNHOLDWhat hasn't been mentioned, even though it's mentioned a lot by politicians, is the fact that Britain does not have national identity cards, interestingly. On the ground, that wasn't mentioned once by anyone independently. And even if I prompted them, that's not something that seemed to bother them terribly. So this idea that they're sort of opportunistically seeking out Britain because it doesn't have, you know, you don’t have a national identity card, it seems to be amiss on the very anecdotal basis of my reporting at least.
REHMSo what happens if they're actually picked up by police?
BENNHOLDSo when they arrive on the other side, the few that make it, you know, incredibly, as you probably saw on the news, there was one guy who actually walked almost the entire length of the tunnel. It was quite incredible -- evading security cameras, climbing four fences. It's...
REHMAnd trains going by at 100 miles an hour.
BENNHOLDYeah. And more. I think, like, 180 miles an hour, crazy. And really, really, really crazy. So when police pick somebody up, they will start initially a criminal investigation and the person can then -- does have the option, eventually, when it's referred to the home office as an immigration case, to apply for asylum, which will launch another sort of procedure.
REHMI see. So what do you see both the French and British governments doing about this? What more could they be doing?
BENNHOLDSo I guess the big picture here for me is that when you have one of the richest and most stable areas in the entire world bordering a neighborhood that is, in parts, very unstable, very poor and sometimes, you know, has conflict going on, that migration is something that you will not be able to stop. That's the big picture. And I think that has to be clear to people who see politicians announce more fences and sniffer dogs and these sort of little piecemeal measures that they've been coming out with in recent weeks.
BENNHOLDThat said, that long term problem at the source that needs addressing, of course, will take many years to address if ever it will get addressed. Some politicians in Europe, like the previous president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had thoughts about some sort of Mediterranean Union where he thought, you know, the European Union should have a different and tighter neighborhood policy with the sort of countries of southern rim around the Mediterranean.
BENNHOLDThat idea sort of has gone away, partly because the Germans weren't terribly keen on it, I think, and the fact there were other political issue going on. But the point is that more engagement, economic and possibly military, some kind of idea perhaps with centers along the southern rim where people can apply for asylum before they get on those treacherous boats, you know, maybe European Union embassies. I mean, various ideas have been launched that I think could potentially be good ideas, but will need a long time to sort of become real.
BENNHOLDUntil then, one urgent thing certainly is, well, on the ground to deal with the humanitarian crisis. We heard that, you know, the European Union, finally, today, has approved $2.6 billion, I think, equivalent of in a -- over six years for migrants, which will help a little bit. You know, Italy and Greece will get the lion's share.
REHMAll right. Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times, thank you so much for joining us.
BENNHOLDThank you, Diane. Thanks.
REHMShort break, we'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back as we talk about the migrant crisis going on throughout Europe. Alan Kraut is university professor of history at American University. Alan, migrants and refugees have been finding their way to Europe for years. What's different now?
MR. ALAN KRAUTYes. Migration of refugees to Europe and around Europe is an old story. I mean, of course, right after the Second World War, there was a crisis of displaced persons and refugees in Europe. There was a second crisis that occurred after the wars in Southeast Asia. The current crisis is a function of political destabilization and also poverty, which is one of the key drivers. Whenever you have this kind of destabilization and poverty together, you have a flow of migrants and that's what we're seeing. Look at the countries they're coming from.
MR. ALAN KRAUTThey're coming from Syria, they're coming from Afghanistan, they're coming from Eritrea, as well as Sudan and Somalia -- countries where there have been great acts of violence against individuals as well as the kind of hopeless poverty that many suffer. And for those who have education -- and apparently a significant portion of the people in Calais have some education -- the thought of not being able to take advantage of the opportunities their education has afforded them, as well as the political threat that some of them suffer under, is certainly a good reason to be on the move.
REHMAnd to you, Brian Hansford. You're Washington spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. What is the U.N. able to do about this enormous migrant passage?
MR. BRIAN HANSFORDThank you, Diane. I think, as you mention and as the report in Calais showed, you know, in Calais there are around 3,000 refugees and migrants. But this is part of a larger -- much larger problem, as Alan sort of referred to as well. The Calais situation reflects the global refugee immigration crisis, if you like. We're in a world at war. War, conflict and persecution has now forced almost 60 million people to flee their countries. Now these are mind-numbing figures. But each one of those represents a personal tragedy, a personal crisis, if you will. And so we, as the U.N. Refugee Agency, we're the first responders providing emergency assistance, protection, medical care, shelter. But we are only a band-aid to what is a gaping wound.
MR. BRIAN HANSFORDWe are only, you know, a stop-gap measure -- us, with other U.N. organizations as well.
REHMYou heard Katrin talk about the limited number of bathroom facilities, for example, for some 3,000 to 5,000 people. How can that be?
HANSFORDI know. Absolutely. I was on the phone this morning to a colleague in Calais and she basically described the conditions as horrendous, you know, chaotic. People are sleeping rough, outside. People are sleeping under cardboard, under plastic sheeting, you know, makeshift tents. And it's absolutely horrendous. So what we're calling for, as the U.N. Refugee Agency, initially, for the French authorities to provide adequate reception centers for these people.
REHMAnd to you, Demetri Papademetriou, you are with the Migration Policy Institute. Talk about what has happened to Greece and in Greece.
MR. DEMETRIOS PAPADEMETRIOURight. About 125,000 people have crossed the very, very short distance between Turkey and Greece. Some of the Greek island are only about three kilometers or whatever -- less than two mines -- away from Greece. It is the easiest passage, considering the chances that people have to take if they cross the central Mediterranean that's sometimes very unpredictable. And they're coming, you know, 125,000 -- that's probably about three times, if not more, than all of the people that crossed into Greece last year.
REHMAnd where are they coming from?
PAPADEMETRIOUThey come -- the biggest group that actually tries to make it into Greece, you know, are now Syrians because you have created pathways. You know, people travel when -- you know, along pathways that earlier immigrants or would-be refugees, you know, have traveled. This is very close, considering where it is that many of them -- about 50 percent of all the people who have left Syria are in Turkey. So this becomes the easiest means of trying to make it into Europe. Now, there are two things that we need to understand about Greece. The first one is that people don't want to stay in Greece. They want to get in Greece in order to get on to the rest of the European Union. Because Greece is a country that's very poor now. It has no infrastructure whatsoever.
PAPADEMETRIOUNo. Forget the jobs.
PAPADEMETRIOUEven the minimum infrastructure that one would expect, you know, to just take people's names and hopefully fingerprints.
PAPADEMETRIOUThis is a vast challenge for Greece. And Greece has not been able to meet it, you know, anytime during the course of this year.
REHMSo, where are these people situating themselves.
PAPADEMETRIOUWell, they start by going to the closest islands. There are a couple of islands on the Aegean, Lesbos and Mytilene, okay? And a couple of other islands -- smaller islands. That's where they first come in. They overwhelm, you know, the capacity of these local governments to offer even a modicum of the necessary services.
REHMSo what do they do once they get there?
PAPADEMETRIOUThey just, basically, for two or three days, you know, they try to live outside -- living rough, as we've heard. And then, the government helps them get to the mainland. And from then on, large numbers of them trying to go to the north of Greece, cross into Macedonia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and trying to make north through Hungary into the rest of the European Union, or cut left, as it were, and try to make it into Italy, which then allows them to go perhaps all the way to Calais.
REHMAnd where does the U.N. step in here?
HANSFORDWell, the U.N. is there. The U.N. Refuge Agency -- the organization I work for, is there in Greece as well, along with volunteers, along with other NGOs -- non-governmental organizations -- receiving these masses of people, as Demetri was saying. But it's my -- one of our very senior -- our European director was recently in Greece and he basically talked of chaos -- a chaotic situation. And that, again, points to there needs to be European solidarity with Greece and funds made available, expertise made available, collaboration with other European countries.
REHMAnd how is the EU responding?
HANSFORDWell, frankly, at the moment, there needs to be -- much more needs to be done.
HANSFORDI mean it's not simply a Greek problem, it's not simply an Italian problem, it's not a French problem, it's not a German problem or a British problem, it's a European issue and, in fact, a global issue that needs international solidarity and European solidarity.
REHMSo interesting that on Sunday, the U.K. Foreign Minister Philip Hammond spoke of marauding migrants. That doesn't sound like encouragement. That doesn't sound like...
HANSFORDNo it doesn't. It's...
REHM...the beginning of cooperation.
HANSFORDRight. And there's great need for cooperation right now. EU has no policy that's adequate to this situation. And so one can only hope that there would be a kind of codicil, an agreement worked out as to which country should take how many migrants and under what circumstances and so on. That's very, very important.
REHMBut do you see the beginnings of that?
HANSFORDWell, frankly, I mean there is the Common European Asylum System. But it's dysfunctional. I mean, it's completely dysfunctional. What is -- the issue there is that various countries have different laws, different regulations that apply. And I think a very important distinction to make is that we're talking about refugees and migrants: 3,000 or so in Calais, up to 5,000, as the correspondent, New York Times correspondent mentioned. But we're talking most -- I would say and from what I've heard on the ground -- are refugees, i.e., people who need international protection, people coming, as the reporter said, from Afghanistan, from Syria, as Demetri mentioned, people coming from conflict.
REHMAnd what kind of condition are they in?
HANSFORDI mean, again, crossing the Mediterranean and eventually ending up in Calais, they've made journeys of hundreds and hundreds of miles. These are desperate people resorting to desperate measures. And what we've seen since June, as you mentioned, Diane, is an increasing number -- I think it's over 10 now -- people have been killed trying to cross into the U.K., being run over by trucks, being, you know, knocked down by cars, being. And this is -- this is a small illustration of the global crisis that is the displacement of refugee crisis.
KRAUTAnd, of course, the other issue is the resistance on the part of many European countries to having an influx of refugees -- people coming from different racial backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds -- it's a major problem. What would the incentive be for these countries to open their doors? At least one commentator has suggested that perhaps there ought to be a kind of quid pro quo. And that is an agreement where, if one country is willing to accept more refugees, they get financial assistance and other considerations from the countries who are taking slightly fewer refugees. It's a time when we really need some creativity and some innovation.
PAPADEMETRIOURight. And there are some exemplary examples of countries that have just gone beyond what anyone could reasonably expect of them -- Germany. Last year, Germany took over 250,000 refugees -- asylum -- let's call them asylum seekers, because we cannot prejudge whether they're refugees or, you know, migrants that are looking for an economic...
REHMAnd is -- is the difference based in economic versus concerns about personal safety?
PAPADEMETRIOUWell, Germany -- for all the reasons that one would expect, wants to be the best European citizen in that regard -- overtook roughly 250,000 last year, over 300,000 so far this year. Their planning documents are expecting as many as 450. The question becomes -- thousand, okay? And they're -- Sweden also really extended itself. You make it to Sweden, if you're Syrian, within two or three months you get the equivalent of our Green Card. You become...
REHMOn the other hand, there was a piece in Sunday's New York Times about the refugees, the Romas, who are not being received happily in Sweden and have no status whatsoever. This is a huge problem. And one headline in Europe in the U.K.'s Telegraph says, "What is the EU For, If Not For Solving the Migration Crisis?"
PAPADEMETRIOUIt doesn't have the legal tools. And it doesn't have the financial means. As a result, it keeps entering the fray and then withdrawing. Because member states still make the decisions in this matter.
REHMThey have their autonomy.
PAPADEMETRIOUThat's exactly right. And it is not clear to me, you know, as someone who has looked at Europe for 40 years now, that the outcomes would be, you know, substantially different -- meaning appreciably better -- if you had a central government that made these decisions. In many of these individual countries, localities and regions refuse to take legitimate refugees and resettle them. In other words, there's a legal framework within each country that determines these things. It costs an enormous of money. The $2.8 billion over six years, whatever it is that was said here, is not even a drop in the ocean relative to what is needed. And these are people. They're not widgets. You need to help them integrate, teach them the language, make them part of the society.
PAPADEMETRIOUSocial cohesion, this concept, is crucial in terms of importance in Europe. They want societies that can work together and communities that can work together.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, 800-433-8850. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's take a caller from Houston, Texas. Katie, you're on the air.
KATIEThank you. I would like to put another -- look at it from another angle. The gentleman talked about how generous Germany is being with immigrants. Well, they might be generous the last few years, but they're a very, very prosperous country and -- but they don't have a long history like England does of welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum for political reasons. And also we -- remember when there was Idi Amin and decided he didn't like the Asians in his country and just decided that they needed to exit his country. We took them all in. We have a long history of taking refugees. We're a small country. We welcomed people and gave them free schools, hospitals, everything. But, remember, that's at the cost of our citizens.
REHMAnd what you're suggesting is that the citizenry of Britain is being overwhelmed.
KRAUTYes. And, you know, there's a great deal of concern not just about the cost of resettlement, but a concern about political instability. Britain looks across the channel, sees the Charlie Hebdo episode, sees other acts of violence in the immigrant neighborhoods, refugee neighborhoods of France and wonders whether this is something it wants to import. And so, in addition to everything else, you have security concerns, stereotypes, that long precede the current crisis.
REHMLet's go to Suzanne in Derwood, Md. You're on the air.
SUZANNEYes. Hi. My question is, if I'm going to Lesbos as a tourist in September. What should I do? What can I do or bring from here?
PAPADEMETRIOUWell, I don't know what you should bring from here. But certainly you're going to share the island with increasing numbers of immigrants and would-be refugees, asylum seekers. This is the high season for doing so, you know, July, August, September. There is every likelihood that you're going to have very large -- much larger numbers increase in this particular island in September than you had in July.
REHMYou know, it's interesting. This morning we heard about a couple vacationing in Greece on the beach, who saw -- actually saw the immigrants coming in -- stayed and went to help them and are planning to go back to offer individual help. But surely, the help must come from larger entities, from governments. But I do think our first caller has a point that cannot be ignored. That is, that where you have money and facilities, as Germany does -- which unfortunately at this point Britain seems to be running low on -- the numbers become very, very different. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, a caller from Williamsport, Pa., your emails, your comments on Facebook and Twitter. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. We'll go immediately back to the phones to Montgomery. He's in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You're on the air. Go right ahead.
MONTGOMERYThank you. Good morning. We've all heard about how the European nations had been combating with each other to not take a lot of the asylum seekers. What role do they believe the United States should be taking regarding the asylum seekers?
PAPADEMETRIOUWell, I suspect that the United States, at some point, will come in and do the right thing, but they won't, we won't do anything until the Europeans get their act together in this regard. It is shameful what happened in the last, twice now, in the last month or so. Where the commission had a proposal for relocation. We call it resettlement. Of 40,000 refugees, people who have passed all the tests over a two year period. So, that's 20,000 per year, and they could only get 32,000 slots, commitments, on the part of the member states. That gives you a sense that it's not just about the numbers.
PAPADEMETRIOUIt's all of the other things that we have, you know, sort of insinuated here. Religion, culture, security, all of these things that, you know, that basically begin to interfere with the ability of a nation to say we have control of the situation.
KRAUTYeah, there certainly needs to be more European solidarity. More European collaboration in terms of finding legal ways for people who are refugees, for example, to find their way into Europe. Such as family reunification schemes. But the US resettles more refugees than any other country combined. And what I think is very important to recognize as well that people who come to the US, as to any other country, go through very strict checks and balances. Nothing is ever perfect, but the Department of Homeland Security, for example, here in the US, conducts very strict background checks.
KRAUTAnd checks and balances on people who come.
HANSFORDThere's that, plus one other factor, and that is that the United States has a long tradition of assisting the foreign born, and especially refugees. And that tradition of incorporating, of assimilating people of many, many different backgrounds is one that isn't common across Europe.
REHMBut let me say that we have to face the fact that there are real concerns. An email from Michael says approximately what percentage of this wave of immigrants are followers of Islam? And that creates images in peoples' minds. Alan.
HANSFORDAbsolutely. There's no getting around it. The news stories, the violence, the incredible oppression. All these are not lost on individuals living in European countries, and they simply don't want this to come to their house. And we can argue about the humanitarian issues and certainly the humanitarian issues are very important. But the individuals who are contacting us, this morning, with their questions, have concerns, because they know what they've read in the newspapers, and they know what they expect in terms of domestic peace and security.
REHMAnd here's an email from Doug, who says before you criticize Europe's resistance to immigration, how many are Russia, China, Korea and Japan taking in? None that I have heard of. Demetri.
PAPADEMETRIOUYes. Very, very few people. Japan has never been an open society when it comes to immigration, even when the crisis was in its neighborhood. Russia has been taking on quite a few Ukrainians, you know, over particular type of Ukrainians. So, it has been a first asylum place for those kind of Ukrainians that have wanted, of Russian background, I suspect, who have wanted to move to Russia. Korea, all of these other places, don't play in this. Interestingly enough, there's a trickle of people who make it to Brazil.
PAPADEMETRIOUYou know, that trickle may become sort of larger. We don't know, but you know, Brazil has basically created some opportunities. We're talking about a pittance, but that's how things start. With very small numbers.
REHMAll right, to Waterford, Michigan. Karin, you're on the air.
REHMGo right ahead, please. Yes.
KARINHello. Now, I am, I wanted to raise another perspective. It is, I heard, because I'm French. So, I'm living in America, so I'm immigrated here. I still feel European. And when I heard is that certain countries like Germany or Sweden opening themselves to immigration or refugees, and that's true. But it's because, as well, they have an aging population. They have very low birth rate and they are fearing that long term, this is going to be detrimental to them. So, this is, as well, a political view, rather than a population view on that. And we can't forget that Europe is not America. Meaning when people come, they go to cities. It's very, very difficult to enlarge them, if you want to say so.
KARINLondon or Paris or Marseilles are already large cities, but they cannot be enlarged. You cannot bring more schools. You cannot bring more hospital. Because the structures are not made for that.
REHMInteresting point. Alan.
KRAUT...yeah, I think the situation has to be put into perspective, though. There are around 3,000 refugees and migrants in Cali. And this is a neither new number nor frankly is it an unmanageable number. It's roughly the same as was in there in the end of 2014. Now, I've just come back recently. I was in Lebanon on an emergency mission with the UN Refugee Agency. And there, 1.2 million of the population of Lebanon, all but 25 percent, one in four of the population of Lebanon, is a Syrian refugee. Turkey now has almost two million Syrian refugees. The largest number of Syrian...
KRAUTAbsolutely. And, you know, they are most of the Syrian refugees, whereas, a report, as the New York Times report show nearly, a lot of them end up in Cali. But most of them are in the neighborhood. And, you know, to compare 3,000 refugees and migrants with, you know, almost 2 million in Turkey, or almost 1.2 million in Lebanon, I think there needs to be a sense of perspective.
REHMAnd what has Turkey done to absorb or not the number of refugees? Many of them are in camps, are they not?
KRAUTAbsolutely. In camps in Turkey, living amongst the population as well. And being provided for, supported, same in Lebanon. Lebanon has no official refugee camps. So the people are living amongst the population. Working with the population, working, you know, as agricultural workers, as laborers, and living in informal settlements, tented settlements, but living amongst the population.
PAPADEMETRIOUAnd this is quite a remarkable response on the part of Turkey. The ability of many of these folks to just move on. Live among the population, hire apartments, work, and move around. Not just in the immediate area, but beyond, is really quite extraordinary. We get fixated on the day to day sort of optics of 3,000 people. Here we're talking about millions of people.
PAPADEMETRIOUAnd if Europe really wanted to spend 2.8 billion of 50 billion, if they were, and don't want to have, to become inundated with would be asylum seekers, invest that money in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Turkey. Because if you create lives for refugees, and their families in these places, while at the same time, trying to create opportunities for the local population, then you have sort of like the best of all possible worlds.
REHMWhat do you think?
HANSFORDRegional development. That's exactly right. In addition to dealing with the immediate crisis of people living in camps, there's the longer term issue of how do you develop economies in this part of the world that can handle an influx of refugees, asylees and others who are going to need economic opportunity. And here's where the EU, once again, drops the ball. There's no comprehensive plan, not even a hint of a comprehensive plan.
REHMAll right. To Dayton, Ohio. Vito, you're on the air. Go right ahead.
VITOI want to just ask the panel a question from a big history perspective, considering that Europe has played a part in the scramble from Africa or the partition of the Middle East. Don't they feel that they have some sense of responsibility, because just a generation ago, most of these countries just gained their independence? Don't they feel a sense of responsibility to assist in this migrant, and that they have some responsibility for the current situation?
HANSFORDI think some Europeans do have a strong sense of post-colonial responsibility. But nevertheless, that goes only so far, and when there are pressures, internal pressures, economic pressures, cultural and social pressures within their own societies, there's a real limit to how far those post-colonial responsibilities and sense of obligation will go.
REHMAnd to Amar in Toronto, Canada. You're on the air. Go right ahead.
AMARHi. So, I used to be a Syrian refugee in Canada. And I was fortunate enough to be in Canada when the situation happened. And I was forced to apply for refugee. I just want to comment about the US and Canada governments response to the refugee crisis. The, as far as my knowledge, because I work with a lot of refugees, there isn't a good response for that. For example, the Canadian government has promised to bring 10,000 refugees in the next three years. They promised last year. And so far, they only brought, I think, a thousand.
AMARBeen struggling to meet the requirement the Canadian government imposed on us to bring people. For example, I can't bring my mom here because there are a lot of requirements. I know I have a lot of friends in the US who apply for asylum seeker for the last two years, and still they're, the process has not been done because of security issues and I don't know what. I also want to say something about GCC countries, that the Arab Gulf countries who stopped giving work visas to Syrian refugees, who are stuck in Lebanon or Syria or Jordan.
AMARThey have a lot of jobs in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the Emirates. But they're not giving work permits for these people.
REHMAnd what about that, Alan? Sorry. I keep going...
HANSFORDI think you mean Brian.
KRAUTCertainly, the US, and I'm speaking as the UN (word?) spokesman here in Washington. The US has an open ended commitment to resettle Syrian refugees. At the moment, the numbers are few. Only around 1,000 have been resettled. But the US provides more humanitarian assistance than any other country for the Syria crisis.
REHMAnd what about those Arab countries?
PAPADEMETRIOURight. And the Arab countries, by design, about 25 or 30 years ago, decided that they would not import all of the passions and the disagreements, et cetera, from the Middle East into their own countries. So instead, up until that time, it was mostly Egyptians, Jordanians and all that. And then systematically, they went after different kind of migrant from Southeast Asia. This was much safer, as far as they were concerned. And that's what they do. Now, the overwhelming majority, 80, 90 plus percent of all of the millions of migrants, who are throughout the GCC states, the Gulf corporation states, are from Southeast Asia.
PAPADEMETRIOUAnd that is a matter of policy decisions. Now, there might not be anything wrong with that if they would put real money on the table in order to do some of the other things that need to be done.
REHMYeah. Yeah. Yeah. But, they're not.
PAPADEMETRIOUBut they're not putting enough.
HANSFORDRight. They're putting their money into fighting ISIS and dealing with regional problems. And what Demetri said a moment ago is quite correct. It's much safer, culturally, to import people from Southeast Asia than to bring your regional neighbors in who you feel might destabilize the regime.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's an email from Charles in Houston, Texas. He says, since the existence of the camp in Calais is well known to French authorities, why aren't the migrants arrested? Are they not being arrested because they will have the right to remain in the country while applying for asylum? How does that work?
KRAUTWell, again, I go back to the point, around 3,000, there are around 3,000 people, and they are refugees and migrants. And what we're asking for, initially, from the French authorities, is to improve the situation. Horrendous conditions, terrible living conditions, you know, a chaotic situation. So, we're asking for safe reception centers so the situation of each individual person can be found out. You know, many of my colleagues have been there. I was on the phone this morning to Celine, one of the, and she spoke about people coming from Afghanistan, coming from Syria, coming from Sudan, coming from Somalia.
KRAUTPeople would seem to have international protection concerns, legitimate protection concerns, which marks them all as refugees. IE, if they were to go back to their countries of origin, they would be imprisoned, tortured or worse.
REHMNow, in this year of political campaigning in this country, there's been a lot of talk about immigration from Mexico into our southern border. How does what we hear in the United States are experiencing compare to what's happening throughout Europe. Alan.
KRAUTWell, I think when Donald Trump uttered those ugly remarks about Mexicans, and continued to do well in the polls, it was because he was tapping into some very, very negative feelings that many Americans have right now about the entire issue of immigration.
REHMBut surely, as far as numbers are concerned, we are not dealing with the same kind.
KRAUTNo, it's not the numbers that are at stake here. It's rather broader cultural concerns, negative feelings, attitudes toward undocumented immigrants who have broken American law. I mean, one of the reasons that an immigration debate, a full-fledged immigration debate on policy reform can't gain traction in the United States is the issue of undocumented newcomers and whether or not they should be punished and how that punishment should play itself out. So, we're in a period right now where there's a great deal of good feeling about immigrants.
KRAUTWe're, after all, a nation of nations. We advertise that to the world. And yet, at the same time, a reservoir of underlying anger and concern that I think we see playing out and will probably play out in the coming election.
PAPADEMETRIOUTo put it in very simple words, if the sense is that things are out of control, publics are going to go crazy. Governments will react, and the only thing that you can sort of project, as to what would happen in Europe, by the end of the year, is restriction and more controls. Which is what we did last year with the unaccompanied minors issue in our southern border.
REHMAll right. We'll have to leave it there. I'm sure we'll be doing further programs on this issue. Demetrius Papademetriou. He is with the Migration Policy Institute. Brian Hansford with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Alan Kraut, Professor of History at American University. Thank you all.
HANSFORDThank you, Diane.
PAPADEMETRIOUThank you, Diane.
KRAUTThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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