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“Refugee crisis? What crisis?” A numerical perspective

A badly needed numerical perspective:

The author, Gwynne Dyer, is a distinguished Canada-born historian, PhD Kings College London in military and Middle Eastern history, Senior Lecturer in military history at Sandhurst before becoming full time journalist. Some extracts:

“They are coming at the rate of about 3,000 a day, mostly through Turkey into Greece or across the Mediterranean to Italy, and the EU doesn’t know what to do about it.

meditterranean-migrantsIt’s not really that big a refugee crisis: one million people at most this year, or one-fifth of one percent of the European Union’s 500 million people. Lebanon (population 4.5 million) has already taken in a million refugees, as has Jordan (pop. 6.5 million). But while a few of the EU’s 28 countries are behaving well, many more have descended into a gibbering panic about being ‘overrun’.”

“Chancellor Angela Merkel put it bluntly: ‘If Europe fails on the question of refugees…it will not be the Europe we imagined.’ She has put her money where her mouth is: two weeks ago she predicted that Germany would accept asylum claims from 800,000 refugees this year.”

” The most prominent [of those shirking what Gwynne Dwyer calls ‘their responsibility’] are the United Kingdom and Spain, which played a key role in sabotaging an EU meeting last June that was trying to agree on a formula for sharing the refugee burden fairly among EU members.

David Cameron’s problem is that overall immigration into Britain is high (330,000 last year) … only 25,000 were refugees – but such fine distinctions have little place in the public debate.”

A personal comment: But for accidents of time and place, every one of us is a potential refugee. I am the grandchild of refugees, and am old enough to have had friends within my tribe who were themselves refugees, and who owed their lives to having been among the few who found refuge.

Image from UNHCR


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