Starr Forum: Global Refugee Crisis

Starr Forum: Global Refugee Crisis


NHUCH: Welcome to
today’s Starr Forum on the global refugee crisis. Today’s event is
co-sponsored by the MIT Center for International
Studies and the Inter University Committee on
International Migration. I’m Michelle Nhuch
and I’m thrilled that you’re here
to be participating in this timely discussion. Today’s talk will be a panel
discussion followed by Q&A with the audience. For Q&A, I just want to ask that
you line up behind the mics. We are taking a
video of the event and we need to capture audio. And I wanted to
say the talk will be moderated by Anna Hardman. Dr. Hardman has taught at Tufts
University in the Economics Department since 1995. Her research focuses on urban
economics and on migration. She’s a member of
the Inter University Committee on
International Migration and is currently organizing
a workshop at MIT on the economics of
forced migration. Dr. Hardman will provide a brief
overview of the global refugee crisis and also
introduce our panelists. Please join me in
welcoming Dr. Hardman. [APPLAUSE] HARDMAN: Michelle, thank you. What I’d like to do is start
by introducing the panelists and then give my very
brief introduction to the subject of
today’s discussion. Our first speaker
will be Ali Aljundi, who’s a project officer for
Syria with our Oxfam America. He’s been a Syrian civil
activist whose brought his diverse experience
and wide knowledge of the Syrian conflict to
his work at Oxfam America as a Syria Project Officer. Ali’s work focuses on peace
building and empowering Syrian civil society. Before he left
Syria in 2012, Ali participated in
establishing a local NGO, he contributed to launching
that NGO’s platform, he helped to secure funds
for sustainable community empowerment projects. He’s also worked at United
Nations Relief and Work Agency on Youth Employment
and Career Development. He has a Bachelor’s degree
in economics from Damascus University and a masters in
Sustainable International Development from Brandeis. Our second speaker is
Nahuel Arenas who’s worked with Oxfam since 2007. He’s led humanitarian
responses in Mozambique, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina
Faso, and South Sudan, and provided support for
Oxfam’s response in Haiti. He had previously worked for
Action Against Hunger and Japan International Cooperation Agency
in a number of other countries. He has a master’s degree from
SOAS in London in International Politics and has degrees in
Crisis Management and Public Policy. He joined Oxfam in 2013 as
Deputy Humanitarian Director. He’s now the Director of Oxfam
America’s Humanitarian Response Department. Our third speaker is Jennifer
Leaning, the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor
of the Practice of Health and Human
Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Leaning directed the
program on humanitarian crises and human rights at the Harvard
School of Public Health. Subsequently, she was founder
and co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Professor Leaning’s research
and policy interests include international
humanitarian law in crisis settings,
human security in the context of forced
migration and conflict. She has field experience in
problems of public health and human rights in
crisis situations, she’s written widely
on those issues. I have to say, I
remember very well a talk she gave a year or so ago
at the Center for International Studies in which she talked
about the Syria crisis in particular, and
which really made, to me, a great
deal of difference in the degree of awareness of
how profound the problem was. Professor Leaning has
co-founded and served on the board of Physicians
for Human Rights, on the boards of Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Oxfam America, and then there’s
a list of journals she’s edited, publishers
for which she’s on the board of
directors of syndics. I’m going to stop
because if I read the whole of Professor
Leaning’s bio, we would be here a long time. Our last speaker is Serena
Parekh, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern
University with degrees from Boston College, Catholic
University of Louvain, and a BA from McGill. Professor Parekh’s
primary interests are social and political
philosophy and the philosophy of human rights. She’s working on a manuscript
about our moral obligations to refugees, which
is forthcoming. It’s going to come out
from Routledge in 2016. The tentative title is
“Refugees and the Ethics of Forced Displacement.” And that is our
board of speakers. You will be hearing
them in a minute. I’m going to try to be just a
little provocative in talking about– introducing the topic
of the global refugee crisis by asking first, is it global? Is what we’re seeing in
migration today really global? When, if we’re thinking
about Syria, what about– are the forced migrants
fleeing Syria, or Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,
and the countries providing shelter for,
or to some extent, providing shelter for them,
either in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, or other, is that part
of this global refugee crisis? Is this a global
refugee crisis which also includes refugees
and regular migrants who are leaving Myanmar? Who are leaving Central America? Is it because Europe
is the destination that the Syrian
crisis has attracted so much more attention? I don’t say enough,
and certainly not enough of a
humanitarian response. But I think that’s a question
that deserves to be asked. Next question. The title of this event
includes the word refugees. Does legal status matter? I don’t expect
that everybody here is familiar with the legal
definition of refugees but I hope that one or
more of the speakers will address that issue, that
just because somebody leaves their country because
they’re afraid doesn’t automatically make
them, in legal terms, a refugee. Doesn’t automatically make
them eligible for asylum. It may make them eligible
to apply for asylum but there’s a long wait between
applying and getting asylum. Thirdly, what makes it a crisis? Is it the size of the flow? The pace with
which it increased? Is it the destinations? Which is back to Europe,
which is reluctant, Lebanon, which is overwhelmed,
Jordan, overwhelmed? Turkey, using the crisis to
seek to elicit concessions from the European Union? Is it that the character
of migrants, particularly the Syrian migrants,
seems to be significantly different from many previous
large refugee flows, in Kosovo, in Rwanda, and so on? And not least, is
it the smugglers? Is it the fact that the
smuggling industry appears to have become much more
important and much more dangerous than it
has been in the past? And I guess lastly,
highly visible deaths. I’m not going to
introduce all the numbers but let me just– the
New York Times recently had a really excellent
article which showed the relative
size– the photograph is about 160 migrants waiting
in southern Hungary to board a bus to
get registered, but can you see a minute
blip, 160 migrants, in the corner of the
image that you’re seeing? That’s the scale of those people
relative to the 160,000 people who were supposed to be
allocated to different EU countries under the
plan that’s still being debated and negotiated at best. The 549 refugees in
Greece, Italy, and Hungary who were the only ones to
be eligible for that EU resettlement plan, the
1.3 million people who’ve applied for asylum this year,
or the 4.7 million asylum seekers who are in Turkey,
Lebanon, and Jordan. And finally, is it the
dangerous sea arrivals? Many of the stories that we’ve
been reading in the press are about dangerous
sea arrivals, about the numbers of people. Certainly this summer, I saw
an island I’m familiar with, which has received so far
this year 4,600 refugees, migrants, what we
want to call them– I’m not sure I’m comfortable
choosing a single word but certainly people
traveling in great distress, in great need– that’s an
island with a full time population of less
than 2,000 people and that’s not one of the places
most overwhelmed by refugees by any means. I’d like to introduce
now I’ve said a little. Ali Aljundi, you’re
our first speaker. ALJUNDI: Good
afternoon, everyone, and thanks for giving
me the opportunity to talk about Syria,
my beloved country. So I’ll talk in my presentation
about Syrian culture, conflict roots, conflict timeline,
and conflict impact on the Syrian people, and
about the refugee crisis which is everybody’s
talking about now, and I will close
with some comments. So first, Syria has
one of the oldest civilization in the
history and everybody has some rules in Syria. If you see on this
map, you will see multiculture, multi-ethnic
and religious group, they were living with each
other for thousands of years, literally thousands of years. On the left you can
see this picture. This is from old Damascus
in a [INAUDIBLE] called [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. This is a Jewish family house. One of my friends,
who was a refugee, immigrated from
Palestine to Damascus. He lived next to this
family and he told me, when he was a child, he
used to come to this family and to turn on their
gas on Saturdays because Jewish families
are not allowed to turn gas on on Saturdays. So they respect each other,
they celebrate the eve, they celebrate all the occasions
and they were still living there like this until recently. So opposite to now, we are
talk about the refugee crisis. Syria was a host of
refugees from the area. First from the genocide
against Armenian happened in 1915 Syria
received– in ’15, Syria received more than
100,000 refugees from Armenia and the people in Aleppo
were very generous with their own saving. They received them and allowed
them to start their own lives. I am from the middle
of Syria and my town, it is a rural area, we received
few families from Armenia. The people there, the local
community, they helped them. They gave them a
land and helped them to make a church in the town. Still the ruins of
this church there. It is a Muslim district but
they helped the people to do. And because we have a lot
of grapes in our area, so they open one of the
best wine factories in Syria in the 1940s and ’50s. So when the Palestinian
Nakba happened in 1948, Syria received Palestinians,
more than a half million people, and they
gave them full properties to live and to start
their own life. When Iraq– I mean,
the invasion happened, and [INAUDIBLE] conflict
in Iraq happened, Syria received more
than one million people, Iraqis, refugees. Also, Lebanon, when they have
conflicts, civil war in 1975 and then 2006, they received
thousands of people. Others also. So this is a culture
where we– when I came, I came to United States to
study masters in Brandeis. So the first day in my
school, I went there, I met one American Somali. He hugged me and
said, are you Syrian? I said, yes. Just then I thought he started–
almost he wanted to cry. I said, why are doing this? He said, because my cousin
was a refugee in Syria and he used to go there,
and he loved that country, and he told me a lot
about your civilization, about your culture, how
you deal with the people. So I mean, this is
the culture where we were before this happened. So the approach
I’m using, I will use the humanitarian aspect when
looking for the Syrian crisis. It is development
in the reverse. And it happened everywhere
because of social exclusion, marginalization, slow economic
growth, in addition to some other reasons
or factors related to the conflict of the identity. So Syria started in 2000 the
Economic Liberation Process, but this process
was not accompanied by the reform and law
regulations and the building in suitable institutions. So this one, I will try to say
the key factors that why we have social problems in Syria. So the liberation
of economy that they started, it made
the disparity high, increased the disparity
between the rural areas and the urban areas. It doubled in that time. Also, it deteriorated
the agriculture sector, which was one of the
main sources of income for the people, because
they cut the subsidies and we have very heavy
throughout 2006, 2009, which took 60% of the
livestock in Syria. So with this, we have
internal immigration from rural areas to
main cities, and they made informal
circlings, and these are the people who started
anew that probably– who felt discluded, and
who felt marginalized and lacked job opportunities. Also, the government tried
to allow the public sector– the private sector
to play it slow but because we don’t
have the regulations, we don’t have the
empowering environment, so the labor market managed
to absorb 400,000 only out of 1.6 million
newcomers to the market. So these are the
situation, I mean, what was happening in
Syria before the crisis. So they did not
come in one night. So the conflict in Syria started
by peaceful demonstrations in [INAUDIBLE] in March 2011. And then, in the summer, it
moved to more violent conflict with the establishment
of the Syrian Free Army and the extremist groups
were started, I mean forming, the conflict with
the government. So the brutal and the
violence started by that time. In 2012, Kofi Annan tried to
solve the problem in Geneva One and he failed. Then we have Geneva Two
in 2014, it failed also. And after that, the
[INAUDIBLE] announced it’s [INAUDIBLE] in
[INAUDIBLE] in August, 2014. Followed by that, United
States air strike started, and then we have
Russia now started it’s own air strikes on the Syria. So this is what’s going
on in the country. If you see a [INAUDIBLE]
like it is a proxy, war, it’s a new war. Well, you cannot, I mean,
say this is internal factors, these are external factors. So it is making the
conflict worse and worse. And we cannot see, I mean–
the violent conflict, we cannot see it without the
Russia, United States, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
and Iran conflict. The original conflict played
a critical role in this. It’s what– if we
see now with it– because of the vacuum of power
and the problems, you see, [INAUDIBLE] Syria became
attractive destination for all extremists
from all the worlds. We have now– some
estimations, they say we have 7,000
groups, militant groups, fighting in the country. So this is some of the
humanitarian crisis. So, first thing now, we
don’t have any mechanism to protect the civilians,
which is very most needed for the people to
stay in the country. There is at least 250,000
killed, one million injured, and 7.6
million displaced. When we talk about displaced, we
see the figure, but 7.6 million means they lost their houses,
children without education, forced labor, child labor,
the associated things. No health services,
no basic services. So this is some of the
things that– and so, in addition, we have five
million people in hard to reach areas. 500,000 among them
are in besieged areas. So this is the crisis
we are talking about. Some economic factors,
we have war economy now we have groups, fighting
groups, in the country. They have benefits from
kidnapping, looting, and smuggling, and selling
goods in unimaginable prices. So there are people now
who are benefit from this. Also, the sanctions,
the European sanctions, the Syrian exports. Syrian exports also supported,
enhanced, this war economy. The Syrian currency depreciated
from 45 Syrian pound for $1 to 340 now. More than 6 times. 7 million now live in extreme
poverty and we lost about 40% of the capital investment
and of the economy. The estimated losses of this
about more than $200 billion they put the loss in the Syrian
crisis from 2011 until now. See the impact on the education. Syria was one of the best
companies in the education. We have like 96% for
men literacy rate. Now 50%, 52% of the
kids without school. For years, most of them,
they did not go to school. 90% in Daesh, the terrorist
area, they don’t go to school. And we have 4,000
schools now either used for displaced people
or out of work. In addition to the risk
of going and teaching, and the lack of
staff, so many things. This has also some associated
results in– the kids, they go and work for to
support their families. There are many issues
related to this, also. So the health sector,
the basic services are missing in the country. More than 60% of
the infrastructure is already destroyed. Like in my hometown,
in the middle of Syria, where this little arrow–
I talked to my mom, she told me they stay
15 days without water and that the electricity
comes few hours a day. So I mean, this is the kind
of life the people are living. So we have some programs
in the United Nation trying to help the Syrian
people, I will not talk– but still, there are five
million people under served. It is very difficult to
access and to reach them. So refugee crisis. If you see now we have– we
talk about four million refugee crisis. Why this crisis? People are escaping because they
don’t have any other option not because they want
to have internet or to see TV in the United
States or other countries. They don’t have any
other option but still they have the courage
to travel and to have all the risks to save their
families and their lives. Refugee crisis for Syria is more
than Europe or United States because we are losing all
the higher educated people. We are losing all the human
resources, it is a brain drain. Now we talk about the refugee
crisis, we forget the reason. Look at these two charts. You see the casualties? It goes in the same
direction with the refugees. So more casualties,
more dead people [INAUDIBLE], you
have more refugees. So this is the
root of the crisis, where we have to think not only
to solve the refugee crisis. So what we can do? Now all the people thinking
about providing more arms, more weapons, more develop,
it is very obvious that there is no
military solution. And everybody from
United Security Council talk about political solution
but in practice, they’re providing different
parties with more weapons. So we need some
more work on this to implement the United
Nations resolutions. So this is the key thing. We have to find things how to
protect the civilians in Syria. If we don’t protect
them, they will not stop from going
outside the country. So we have to deal with this. In brief, we have to deal with
the crisis and its source, not at borders. It Is not to put more walls
because people will not stop fleeing. Provide them with
some other options and they will be happy to
stay in their countries. So at last, please, as
Syrians, please give us some hope that we will, someday,
will go back to our country and participate in
rebuilding our country. It is very big
task but hopefully we will be able to do
something in the future. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Good evening, my name
is Nahuel Arenas. I work at Oxfam as
Humanitarian Director. Thank you for
inviting me and I’m honored to be a member,
a part, of this panel. My presentation will
have three parts. One, I will present some
facts and figures to put the crisis in perspective. Then I will share
with you some stories of Syrian refugees, some
of their personal stories, trying to illustrate the
extended nature of this crisis. And then I will talk about
what organizations like Oxfam are doing and what we
think about this crisis. So this is the most recent
aspect of the crisis and what we all
are hearing about is the arrival of refugees
alongside incoming migrants in Europe. More than 600,000 people arrived
through the Mediterranean this year alone. We have seen peaks of up
to 7,000 people per day and this is why this
crisis in Europe is most of all a
protection crisis. The winter is
coming, the shelter are always overstretched. There is no enough facilities. 25% of the arrivals are
children and up to 6,000 unaccompanied children
have been registered. Of course, the
risk of smugglers, traffickers, all sorts
of abuse, is there. Most of them are
arriving are Syrians. I don’t know if semantically
we should call it the global crisis
but what I know is that one in every five
displaced persons in the world is a Syrian. So it’s the largest uprooted
people in the world today. So we are talking
about more than 250,000 this year is arriving
from Syria alongside on with other nationalities like
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea. But particularly in the
Mediterranean route, Syrians are 70% of arrivals. But going back to the
root of this crisis, we know that there
are– Ali has mentioned 7.6 million Syrians
displaced within Syria and more 4 millions refugees. Most of them are
in four countries, particularly in Turkey, about
2 million, more than a million in Lebanon– this is
registered refugees. I will talk more about the
Lebanese case in a moment. 650,000 in Jordan, 250,000,
more or less, in Iraq. But now we are going to talk
a little bit about the funding of this response. The reason why we see these
effects in Europe now, it’s clear, it’s
just the consequence of increasing desperation
and hopelessness of Syrians that see that their only chance
to get safety and dignity is risking their lives
and crossing into Europe. So according to this data
coming from the European Union, half a million Syrians
have requested for asylum. Just to put it in
perspective, if they were all granted asylum that
would mean– that would represent 0.07% of
the European population. And even if Germany
accepted all of them, that would represent only
0.6% of Germany’s population. Just keep these numbers in
mind because I will also talk about what is the situation
in some of the neighboring countries like Jordan
and particularly Lebanon. So who are the Syrians
coming to Europe? A recent study by [? Reach, ?]
this is from September, tells us that they’re
predominantly young and male. The reason is
because it is costly and it is a trip of high
risk, so many of them go in advance of
their families and try to get a more safe and
legal way for their families to join them later on. An important piece of
information, the majority of them have been
previously living as refugees in neighboring
countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, and Iraq,
which also confirms that the situation in
these neighboring countries is not giving them
a sense of safety, and sense of dignity
and certainty. As Ali pointed out, this is–
Syria was a medium income country and these refugees
are in, most of them, in middle income countries. That makes the nature of this
crisis very different one, and also in terms of
providing assistance, that makes it much more challenging. Most of the Syrians
in these countries are not in refugee camps. They are renting a
house or an apartment in places like Beirut or Amman. The decreasing aid, the
lack of opportunities, no jobs, uncertainty, I
mentioned this already, but also the sense that there
is a window of opportunity now. Many of them are hearing some
political leaders in Europe and thinking that this is an
opportunity, that they might be welcome, and they don’t
want to lose this chance, particularly before
the winter starts. And it seems that the
train will continue. UNHCR are planning to
receive 1.5 million this year and another 1.5 next year. So we are in October
now, and 10 months into the year the aid appeal for
Syria is only being funded 44%. This means that there
are drastic cuts in aid. You either reduce the
quality of the assistance you are providing, or
you reduce the number of people that are
receiving assistance, or in most of the cases, both. The countries that are hosting
these refugees, like Jordan, and Lebanon, and Turkey,
have been really generous. They have taken a
disproportionate burden in hosting refugees
and the support that other countries have
provided has been very limited. So you can see some
of these figures. Turkey, I read
yesterday in the news, claims that they
had spent already 8 billion Euros in supporting
and taking care of refugees. Europe is, I read, willing
to provide one billion. So there you see the gap and you
see the political complexity. Countries like Jordan spending
around $870 million a year. Iraq, the Kurdish
government, is doing a lot. They are hosting
refugees in camps, predominantly in
the Kurdish region, but Iraq has a humanitarian
crisis of its own. There are 2.5
million of internally displaced people in Iraq. So Iraqis, themselves, are
trying to flee from conflict. So the case of Lebanon. Lebanon, it’s estimated
that they have a population of 4.5 million people. Registered refugees in Lebanon? More than one million people. That represents 25%
of their population. So one in every four people
that you cross in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee and
this registered refugees. Because of the pressure
on these countries and on their economies
they are, of course, trying to put in place
procedures that restrict the inflow of refugees. And so sometimes, and
it’s the case in Lebanon, these procedures are so
onerous and expensive that it is very difficult for
Syrians to get permits or to renew their permits. They are asked to
apply for visas. Could be tourist
visas, for which they need to have $1,000
in their pocket and a hotel booking. Business visa,
medical visa, student visa, so it’s been a
very, very difficult. If you’re not a
registered refugee, it’s very difficult
for you to get access to services like health
services, education, schools, and assistance in general. So that puts a lot of
pressure also on refugees and we know the consequences. So let me share some
of these stories. I was in Lebanon last
week and I met this man. His name is Ahmed Mohammad. He came to Lebanon this year
in– most of restrictions posed by the Lebanese government
are in place just generally and since May,
the UNHCR actually stopped registering
refugees in Lebanon. Again, I’m saying,
Lebanese government has been very generous
but there’s just been little support
and so their solution is to post more restrictions. This man has 13 children. Of course, as we know, the
people who have the resources, they might risk it and make
it to Europe but there’s also other very poor people
that cannot do that. He lives in an, what we call
an informal tented settlement, because there are no formal
refugee camps in Lebanon, with his 13 children. His wife has health issues but
cannot get access to health services, and they are being
asked by– the Lebanese government asked for sponsors
to renew their permits. They are being asked
for a $1800 per person by the a Lebanese sponsor. Multiply that by 15 means
it’s impossible for them. Two weeks ago, I’ve been
visiting our programs in Iraq. A little bit of
content of what’s happening in Iraq
because there’s some also Iraqis fleeing conflict
and traveling to Europe. This woman, her house–
below that’s her house, it’s been destroyed by
ISIS– she came back after the Iraqi forces
with the Shia militias and the Kurds liberated
the area from ISIS. She’s divorced. She’s in charge of her kid. She’s trying to build
her house by herself. in towns that have
been freed from ISIS are still displaced because
the places have been destroyed. They don’t have services,
no water, no electricity, and some people also
are uncomfortable if those towns are
now occupied or being policed by Shia militias. So this is the situation
in Iraq as well. Of course, this exacerbates
existing and underlying [INAUDIBLE] sectarian divisions. I met this family last week
in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. This is the
Syrian-Palestinian family. They were living in a
Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, the Yarmouk Camp. They had an event
management business. They have six children. Two daughters are
university graduates, one is a mechanical
engineer, the other one studied English literature. The place where they were
living was being bombed. At some point,
they told me, they would hear bombs
every two minutes. Next day, al-Nusra, Al-Qaida
affiliated group in Syria, came through and threatened them
to take it way their daughters, so they decided to
flee, to go to Lebanon. In Lebanon, they are also
in a situation of legality, they don’t have proper permits. In addition to the
restrictions on Syrians, Palestinians in Lebanon are
banned from exercising more than 50 professions, so
basically they cannot work. Her son, Omar, the
eldest one there, she’s afraid that he might
get into some kind of trouble and then there’s no
one that can help them. So they cannot work, they’re
living out of handouts. And so her husband decided to
go to Europe and risk his life. He took the route
to leave via Libya. He crossed the desert. He suffers from asthma so it
was very difficult for him. He got in a boat in Libya. A boat next to his
sank and people drowned, but he made
it to the Netherlands. And now they are waiting. It’s going to be a long
wait, perhaps 18 months is the average, until they might
be unified with their father through legal means. This is a registration
facility in Serbia, in the border with Croatia. There are many, many
registration centers in Serbia in the
border with Bulgaria and they the border
with Croatia, as well. Facilities are
really overstretched. In Greece, they receive an
average of 5,000 people a day. You can imagine crowd
situations, lack of information on their legal status,
on their rights, protection issues,
unaccompanied children, lack of appropriate shelter,
lack of communication, means to communicate
with their families. Lots of protection risks when
you have these situations– shared toilets, shared
shelter, shared rooms, and now we are facing the
challenges of the winter. This woman, her
name is Adamussa. This photo has been
taken on October 5. She’s in Presevo in Serbia. She has been
waiting for 72 hours to get a travel permit
in a migrant and refugee center in Serbia. They are from Qamishli in Syria. Ali, you might help me. They went first to
Lebanon, then to Turkey, then they took a
small boat to Greece. Of course, they paid
smugglers for the boats. They paid $1,200 for each adult
and half for each children. She traveled with four children. But smugglers put– the boat
was supposed to hold 40 people, they put extra 10 people and
’10 minutes after they left, the boat began to sink. So they were forced to throw all
their belongings into the sea in order to stay afloat. The night before
this photo was taken, they were exploited
by a taxi driver who overcharged the
family and then made them exit his vehicle
shortly after they got it. Then they had to walk for 10
hours to reach this place. This is the last one. I took this picture last week
in an informal tented settlement in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon. These two children,
they were playing. I asked them, what
are you doing? They said, we are
building the house we are going to live in
when we go back to Syria. I think for me this represents
that these people are fleeing not poverty, they’re fleeing
conflict and refugees that just want to go home. So what Oxfam– what
we have been doing, we have reached in
Syria, in Jordan, in Lebanon, more than 1.6
million people with lifesaving clean water, sanitation,
and other relief supplies like blankets, stoves,
voucher for hygiene supplies, building showers and toilet
blocks in refugee camps, in formal settlements, and also
in some of these desert routes that people use to
fly from conflict. This is the Zaatari
camp in Jordan where Oxfam has built
a water scheme that is serving the 85,000
people that live there. But we also because
many of these schemes or repair wells, in Jordan, in
host communities in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon,
and also inside Syria, where we have rehabilitating
systems in Damascus. Also, we are planning
to rehabilitate a water system in Aleppo that
will give more than one million people clean water. This is a different
kind of project. I visited these projects
last week in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon. This is, just as an example, a
solid waste treatment facility that employees refugees
on a rotational basis. They’re being paid $20
a day in harvesting [INAUDIBLE] for the last
day, and other projects maintaining public spaces. But this is in an interesting
place because it’s in a town that– it’s a town where
10,000 Lebanese live, but they host 40,000 Syrians. So these kind of projects
not only provide an income to refugees and dignity
of being able to work, but also help reduce those
tensions between host communities and refugees. Distribution center in Serbia. I won’t go into
more detail on that. So we do think that no
single measure will solve the displacement crisis but we
think that we need to change of approach, and one that puts
dignity and safety of people first. Europe is now feeling the ripple
effects of the Syria crisis but this will only increase if
the suffering and violence are not addressed. So we are asking rich
countries to contribute with their fair share both
in funding the aid response but also recently, at least
10% of the total refugee population– the
UNHCR has estimated that the 10% percent of refugees
are the most vulnerable ones. And of course,
first and foremost, the source of the sprawling
crisis needs to be addressed. We are pushing for the
implementation of the UN Security Council
resolutions, we are calling for an immediate halt of
transfer of arms and ammunition into Syria and deliberate
attacks on civilians, and of course, called
parties to abide by international humanitarian
law, international human rights law and of course, whereby the
political commitment to find the resolution to the conflict. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] LEANING: Good afternoon,
it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m going to be talking
about the sort of broader overviews of a refugee and
the international system, and how it is now
working to some extent. But more, I’m going to give you
an overview of some of the ways in which we think
about refugee enforced migration factors from the
perspective of public health. So briefly on context in norms,
we’ll talk a bit about wars and why they are so linked
to forced migration, and then I’ll move
into some public health discussions and a few examples. So the context in norms,
and actually, Nahuel just talked about them in his
last parting remarks, one must bear in mind that
this is what we’re taught. This is what we are bound by. This is what the international
normative and legal framework is, enveloping all humanitarian
response, whether it’s Oxfam directors, Oxfam in the
field, International Committee of the Red Cross has been
pivotal in developing a lot of these norms. The UN is very involved
in these issues and has contributed
in terms of treaties to much of what we now know
as International Human Rights Law and Refugee Law. So this is a set of
covenants and treaties that are black letter law,
that bind nation states, that discipline
military, and that provide the guidance and
the norms for the official and unofficial that
is institutional and civil society
humanitarian NGOs. And if you hear words coming
up like protection or dignity or safety or public
health, or hear about Oxfam working on watsan,
all of these are issues that are
embedded in this context and have– to the extent that
they pertain to public health– are bound by a number of
public health understandings and guidelines. So it’s not a chaotic field. Years ago, it was
much more chaotic. But under the stress of
this particular volume of forced migrants,
distressed migrants, the system is having
difficulty meeting its standards of safety,
dignity, health, protection. And the fundamental
issue is one of funding, it’s one of manpower,
but behind that, it’s that the extent to
which this system of peace and security has actually kind
of fallen apart, we cannot, as a global community, say
with any certainty that we’re actually maintaining
peace and international security for everyone in the world,
which was the aim and solemn vow at the end of World War II,
leading to the foundational language of the UN
charter in 1945. So it’s a climax of issues
that have been taking their own slow way of
bubbling to the surface, unaddressed issues,
and we’re now seeing it explode on the
national and international stage in ways that are catching
some people by surprise. I don’t mean some,
I mean many people, by surprise, and even
many of us who’ve been working within the
system and occasionally come back and lick our wounds
and think and talk and write about these things
in academic settings, and then go work
in another agency or do investigations
in the field. Going back and
forth, so your local and then you come out and
see the bigger picture, still hasn’t prepared a number of
us for the astonishing speed with which this
calamity has now been brought upon our seas
and our land mass. The human security discussion
I will not go into today. It’s one that I’m
deeply interested in and it provides a certain
amount of surround sound. It does not sound
as legally based, it’s filled with norms
and understandings about human beings and their
attachment to the land, their attachment to each other,
their sense of the future. And if you look at what’s going
on now from human security perspective, you can see how
devastating this life has become for millions of people,
probably hundreds of millions, because– we’ll be
getting to this later in the talk– this might well
be the tip of the iceberg. Behind the people that
are being helped out of these terrible circumstances,
life-threatening circumstances, soul destroying
experiences, that people are being helped out,
including by completely gracious and
invidious smugglers– and I agree, Anna,
that the smugglers are making a big difference. But if they were not
there, the people would not be able
to leave and then we’d have different
sets of issues. I’m not saying that
you were saying that, but there are many people making
money out of this, including a lot of unscrupulous
ones, but the point being that if they weren’t able
to flee, they would be dying and in terrible
circumstances for the places they’re trying to flee from. But the fact that
they’re trying to flee suggests that you have to
look backwards and say, what are they fleeing from? And this is where this
tip of the iceberg analogy begins to have some balance
and I will come back to that in a moment. And the points that I’m
talking about now here, in terms of public
health, are the evolution of public health approaches
over the last 40 years in an approach to
populations that have been trying to flee
from war or major disasters. So public health
in crisis settings is usually in the setting
of forced migration. Either a lot of
forced migration, or some along with people
that are devastated in place. And a much longer talk would
go into our epidemiology and understanding
of the conditions and how people suffer and
how we get to understand what they need in health terms. Again, the standards and
the ethics of that, but I will not talk about that today. I’m just evoking it here
as the context and norms in which, when you read about
these things in the papers, or you talk to us
later in the Q&A, or in the course
of your own study, it’s very important
for you if you’re critiquing it or applauding it,
that you begin by understanding the norm and context in which
these efforts are underway. The recognition that war
is a public health problem is actually, lamentably, late
in coming to the public health community. Public health was built
on the foundations of water and sanitation,
stopping communicable and infectious disease. Long before the germ
theory was understood, we, in the mid
19th century, began to reduce deaths in
urban areas by looking more closely at the water
systems and their pollution by fecal oral contamination. Now we get into the mid
to late 20th century and after two World Wars,
some devastating epidemics and massacres, and then
on top of that, genocides. And in the shadow
of a nuclear threat or the numbers of people at
risk from certain kinds of war, were astronomical. Public health community
woke up and began to say, we need to look at
the conditions that are causing deaths and morbidity
in these highly contested armed conflict situations. So all of us in
public health who are looking at war
and disaster are part of a vanguard
of the field that is really only 75 years
old and really has gone into high speed in
the late 1980s, mid 1980s, in the context of response to
famines in the Horn of Africa. So the methods we
use are developed for assessment of
famine related mortality in nutritionally deprived
areas in the Horn of Africa. That’s where the seasoned
practitioners started. That’s where they
started helping us understand how to
get information out of relatively chaotic situations
and it’s from that legacy that the rest of us have begun
to learn and teach, and improve our understanding
and our methods. So the gurus are that
set of responders, humanitarian responders, are
now very senior in schools of public health,
in academic arenas, they are on the boards or
leadership of major NGOs, some of them retired. That generation, as
all generations do, is fading but they’ve
been very, very good at teaching the next
several generations coming up. And they’re the
progenitors of much of the literature that we
have on public health in war. So if you look at the
wars of the 20th century, you can see that we
have a preponderance of internal conflict, that
they target civilians, they have inescapable
public health consequences which often are severe
human rights issues attendant upon them and
significant environmental impacts. And this is possible to see
from the sort of heuristic here. It’s not– don’t press
too hard in statistics, but in general, at the
start of the 20th century, the majority of
casualties were military and by the end of
the 20th century, the majority great majority,
are civilian, non-combatant. Hold that in mind. I have another
set of descriptors here that– again, you
could challenge the numbers, but the trends are
fairly important and they’re powerful, regardless
of quibbling over which war you’re counting as
a war in what year. You can see here that if
you look at armed conflict by region from 1946
to 2014, we have a marked increase in the number
of wars that are beginning after World War II, and
they are essentially driven by wars in Africa and Asia. And you’re just starting
to see the edge, 2014, which is using 2013
data, you’re just starting to see the
edge of the uptick in the Mideast, which
is the bar in black. The other point this is
not make, though, is that– and this is cumulative,
it’s every year. You’re seeing every year, the
prevalence tracking forward, and any peak is starting
to show new wars coming in or others going away,
but it is sedimented. The point is that these wars
last now for 20, 25, 30 years. And that is the grim
background upon which we view what is going on in Syria. This has all the earmarks
of a war that’s going to go on for a very long time. Then this is a messy
slide, but just look at the orange, all right? This is the increase
in the stability of internal civil
wars or the yellow is the wars that have
become internationalized because of international
intervention in them. And the actual, conventional
wars are a very low number. It doesn’t mean that
the conventional wars are causing fewer casualties. When you have
conventional wars, you have great powers
like the United States or others with very,
very heavy armaments. But the civil wars
have a tendency, a set of characteristics, which
is they lay waste to land, they attack civilians
and force them to flee, and they basically
create conditions that make it very
difficult to return. So here’s where I’d
like to just focus for a moment, this notion
of forced migration. Because when we’re talking
about public health in war, we’re talking about dealing with
people who are fleeing the war. It is very difficult
to get into the war and take care of people,
and we can come back to that in the Q&A, but
the fundamental issue of doing good work in
public health is access. And by access, I mean not
just getting there, but being able to stay there, to
set up an operation, and see the disease or
the illness or the surgery through, rather than having to
move quickly because there’s a threat, or basically have
to fall on the operating room to protect the patient
because there’s a bomb. You can’t really do good
work in the midst of war and that’s an important facet
of the dilemma about Syria because much of Syria
is now pretty hot, in terms of the impact
of the war on populations are huddled there. So people are either fleeing
from war and atrocity, or they’re fleeing from
major diseases, or famine, or environmental degradation
or climate change, and increasingly, their
level of desperation is high enough it’s little
difficult to say, well, this person who’s fleeing a
self-settled suburb in Beirut, going now to try
to get into Europe. In other words, Syrian in
Lebanon, getting out of Lebanon and trying to go into Europe. Is that person any worse off
than people that are coming out of the Libyan war and desert? Or from deep in the Sahil? They tried for years,
there’s increasing drought, they can’t make a living,
Boko Haram is coming there, and they are fleeing to get
up through the Mediterranean into Europe. How do you say that one
person has the capacity to become a refugee and the
other person is a migrant that has no status in terms of
claims on safety and protection? And this massive flood of
refugees that are– of people, we– I’m using the word
distressed migration. The massive number of people
but you could see when Anna was talking, there was
this back and forth, what is the language now ? And the fact that
we actually aren’t certain about the language
is linked to the fact that it is a great mixture
of highly miserable people who are coming from the
collapse of their societies for a variety of reasons. And that’s why I’m suggesting,
I’m not alone in this, that we’re seeing just the
start of a migration that has been brewing, essentially,
and the sea of rising aspirations, that’s been
brewing for maybe 40 years. So we, for all of
these populations, have core interventions that
link to their emergency needs. Security, shelter, water,
food, sanitation, health, and protection. There’s only in one
of those phrases does the word “health” come in. But in terms of
norms and protection, and trying to do right
things for people in the right sequence, health
is actually not the first thing you’re trying to provide. The first thing you’re
trying to provide for people is security, space where
they are no longer being directly targeted. Then you are trying to give them
a sense of shelter where they can get in and be collected
with friends or family, and then there’s a
big push for water. And often, water, and shelter
are in competition for timing, because you need both
so drastically and fast. Food, for sure. People can live with not much
food for quite a long time, except for pregnant and nursing
mothers and little kids. And then sanitation
comes in as a key factor because otherwise you’ll see
the eruption of a disease, because people are
informally congregated, they’re at close quarters,
their immune systems are down, they’re malnourished, and
that’s just basically– and they’re subject to the
environment, which is often cold or wet, and that
essentially breeds disease of all kinds. And then protection,
which is essentially looking at who is
more likely to be harmed by this
environment than others. And so you have categories
of vulnerability that vary depending upon
the situation, the context, the culture, and we
can talk about that, but generally speaking,
in these wars, civilians themselves
are vulnerable. Then women and children,
people with disabilities, people who belong to
stigmatized minorities. These are the
categories of people you have to pay attention
to, whether they’re in camps or you’re encountering
groups of them in self-settled
situations in urban areas. The problem now with the
current influx of refugees is that people are on the move. Very difficult to count
them or assess them and as they are coming out
into Lebanon and Jordan, Turkey to some extent
and certainly in Iraq, they’re not staying in one
place where you can actually get an assessment of who they are. Public health people and
UNHCR, so refugee analysts and protection officers,
we like “camps.” and we put that in
quotes because camps are dispiriting places and
people in them hate them. So they’re not good ideas. They’re criticized and critiqued
throughout the public health and humanitarian community. But from the standpoint
of getting information and then being able to deal in
response to that information with groups and
populations and families, in an effective
and reasonable way, it’s great if they’re
one place for a while. But if they’re
self-settled, then it’s very difficult to apply some
of the measures that we know. And in this context
of forced migration, more and more issues of
temporary or permanent displacement come to
the fore, and we’re talking about whether
they can return, and what are they returning to. So this is the discourse
in forced migration. And if you look at
refugees and IDPs from the end of World
War II, we always thought we would never see a
peak that we saw at 50 million in Europe alone at the
end of World War II. This figure, 50
million, of course was not counting
the refugees in Asia or in Africa of whom
there were millions, as a result of World War II. So this is that myopia of
the West in counting this. But in any case, 50 million–
we’ve not seen it until what is occurring now. It’s upwards of 60
million refugees and IDPs. We’ve got them together
but the majority of them, the majority of them
are internally displaced. So we have a number
of interventions. I’ve mentioned some
of them, they’re just recapitulating
them now, and when you are going to try to
get access to a population to see what is going on
and how to deal with them and what their
needs are, you first have to cover the
problem of access. This is a road in North
Chad/Darfur border area and we are early days of the
war in Darfur 2004, 2005. And it’s before much of
a camp has been set up, we know the refugees
there were heading out. And this is a sandstorm,
very hot, and landmines from previous
wars, and the winds were whipping up, over the road,
so you actually lose the road. You don’t want to
because you go off track and you’re going
to hit landlines. So this is the access for
the humanitarian community. I was part of a
human rights group, but this was the access for
the humanitarian community to just get up and
see what was going on with the huddled populations. Every different situation
has different access issues in terms of security,
the personnel, and security to the people
you’re trying to reach. The biggest thing
you need, in terms of trying to understand
what is going on with people in a public health
context, is information and much of our work
involves getting information about the needs that people
have and then including that you need to get
information on protection. And the reason some of this is
so important in war enforced migration is that
the studies that have been done by
humanitarian actors trained in the techniques that
were developed in the 1980s at war related and temporally,
mortality in war zones. Mortality . When you look at this, you
find that the great majority of the deaths occur
not from actual combat, but from the collapse of
health services and morbidities from various kinds of wounds
and infectious diseases, and malnutrition. This is why public health in
these settings is so important. The first use of
humanitarian methods to assess what was going on
in refugees in a war setting, not in a famine or
massive calamity setting, was in the early
1990s in the Gulf War, where a study was done to
the Kurdish refugees who had fled out the comfortable
areas they lived in Iraq, up to the Turkish border. It was after the wake of the
Gulf War, when the US decided not to go into Iraq, which
most of us thought then was a good idea, and looking
back, it was a very good idea. But we allowed Saddam
Hussein to think that he could go after the
Kurds and he went after them, and they fled to the North. Turkey closed its borders
to the Kurdish refugees and they were up there
in barren, high, exposed, mountainous areas. And these were suburban curves. And the question, we heard
that they were dying, and the question was why? And people thought it
was because they didn’t have blankets, they didn’t have
shelter, they didn’t have food. And a study went
up, team went up, to actually do
mortality studies, and this is what they found. Death by age, Kurdish refugees. You can see that the majority
who are dying are kids, right? Okay, age is very important. And the next thing you
learn when you ask who died and how old they were, you
ask why and it turns out it was diarrheal disease. This population did
not know how to deal with stream water, which
is scanty in any case, and they were drinking it, they
were defecating and washing in it, they were washing
their clothes in it, and they were cleaning their
houses and their tents with it. And so you had a complete
contamination of the water sources and everybody
was sick with diarrhea, and the children were dying. This was what taught everybody
that the same techniques you use in the study of famine and
disaster affected populations, are going to give you a very
good insights as to what’s going on in public
health in war zones. And I just would like to
leave you with one point about– it was picked up in
one of the talks earlier. Why do people flee in war? It’s because they’re
being attacked in war. And this is the
streets of Sarajevo during the siege in 1990s. Snipers around the hills
were killing people. There was no water,
no food, they’d go out to try to get something,
people got shot, civilians. People fled, trying to leave,
on days where the UN allowed a ceasefire to take place,
precipitously left the areas where they were the
stigmatized population. And as they left, you
had phenomenal issues of Child Protection
and separation. This is ICRC trying to work on
this, so the kid had a label, but in this bedlam,
families are separated and it takes a very
long time for people to come back
together to reunite. And so what I’d like to end here
on this point is that you can try to get access, you can
try to get the measures in, you try to work within norms. But the numbers now
are at a place where we have to have different
methods and different ideas and different approaches,
and in the Q&A I’d be glad to go into
some of those ideas if you’re interested. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] PAREKH: Hello, my
name’s Serena Parekh, I’m a professor of philosophy
at Northeastern University and I’m afraid from
being a representative of the stodgiest
discipline, I don’t have a PowerPoint to
share with you today but I will be talking about our
moral obligations to refugees. So the war in Syria
has, of course, been going on for
several years now but it’s only
recently that we’ve begun discussing our moral
responsibility to refugees. And I actually traced
this moment back to the publication of photo of
Alan Kurdi, the Syrian child who washed up on
the shores of Turkey late in the summer of this year. And it was after this
moment that people started using the language
of moral responsibility and moral obligation,
including politicians like David Cameron,
who really hadn’t used that language before. So now there’s a debate,
hotly contested in the media, among politicians,
and of course, in philosophy,
over what precisely our moral obligations are to
refugees, to people fleeing conflict and forced– and other
forms of forced displacement. So what I thought
would be helpful today is to talk about how the
international community has understood our
obligations to refugees, both theoretically and
in international law, and then suggest
some ways that we might reframe the way we think
about our moral obligations to refugees. So I of course don’t
have time to discuss how it would be
grounded in theory or to show how it would
be realized in practice, but I hope to just begin a more
robust conversation about how we might understand our moral
obligations to refugees. To begin, I want to point
out that it’s not widely agreed that we have
obligations to refugees, indeed that we have moral obligations
to any needy non-citizens period. Many people believe our only
moral obligations are to people who are fellow citizens. If we do have obligations
to non-citizens, they’re what are
sometimes called good Samaritan obligations, so
we have obligations to help, but only when they need is
great and the cost to us is very, very small. And this, of course,
doesn’t really apply to the contemporary
situation of refugees as we’ve learned about
even this evening. The need is very, very high and
so these Samaritan obligations don’t really get us very far. So if we’re looking at where
do our moral obligations to refugees come from
in international law, we go back to the period at the
end of the Second World War, as was discussed earlier. So at the end of the
Second World War, we realized we had done
something terrible. Here were innocent people
being displaced from their home countries, fleeing persecution,
and if we ignored them, they would go back and they
would be killed, or tortured, or some horrible
thing, and we realized we did a terrible
job of that and we needed to do a better job. So at the end of the
Second World War, we, the international
community, agreed upon a set of international
legal norms that was codified in the UN
Refugee Convention of 1951, and this led to the formation
of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who’s sometimes
referred to as the UNHCR. So this is the largest
international body that deals with refugees. And the UNHCR was tasked with
implementing this UN Convention on refugees as well as
protecting refugees and finding one at the three durable
solutions, as they’re called. Either repatriation
to their home country once conflict has
ended, resettlement in a third country,
or integration into the host country where
the refugees find themselves. What I want to suggest, is
that in the Refugee Convention there are two asymmetrical
sets of obligations that pertain to states. So the first set of obligations
has to do with asylum seekers. So asylum seekers are
people who are actually physically in the territory
of the country they’re claiming asylum in. So the pictures
we’ve been seeing of Syrian migrants
in Greece and Italy and throughout Europe,
these are asylum seekers. And the most strongly recognized
legal norm and moral norm is the norm of non-refoulement. This says that a state cannot
send an asylum seeker back to his home country if he or
she has a well-founded fear of persecution. So at the very least, if
somebody’s claiming asylum, a state has an obligation
to hear their claim and to assess whether
their claim is legitimate, whether they really are
fleeing persecution or not. And this, frankly,
is why you don’t see sort of mass
deportations of people coming from Syria or
from other places. They can’t, according
to international law. I mean, what’s interesting
is the extent countries will go to avoid people
coming to their territory for that reason, but I’ll
talk about that in a minute. But this is a very strong,
widely recognized, and widely supported international norm. So that’s on the one hand. On the other hand, we have
obligations to refugees who are in refugee camps. So people who are
considered refugees according to the UNHCR,
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, but are
abroad, or oftentimes, most often, close to the
situation of conflict. So, as we heard about earlier,
the majority of Syrian refugees are the five countries
that are closest to Syria. Now, we have very,
very few obligations to refugees that are not
physically in our country. In fact, there is no
moral or legal norm that requires us to
resettle refugees and there is no
requirement to fund the UNHCR or any other
refugee organization. Everything is strictly a matter
of generosity and benevolence. So it’s a supererogatory duty,
as we would say in philosophy, and not a matter of obligation. So if we resettle
refugees, it’s because we are generous, and kind,
and we love to help people, but not because we’re fulfilling
a moral or legal norm. So you see that we have these
two really broad, asymmetrical obligations to
refugees and I think this has led to three
consequences, some of which have been alluded to already. The first consequence is that,
not surprisingly, the UNHCR has been chronically
underfunded since its inception and as of today. As was mentioned earlier, the
UNHCR receives less than 40% of what is needed in order
to fund humanitarian response to Syrian refugees and to
refugees everywhere else in the world. This has meant– and
in fact, their funding has gotten lower as conflict has
gotten worse, as there has been more deaths of civilians
and more refugees fleeing from Syria, so they’ve
gotten less in proportion to their need. Things have gotten so bad
that for the first time since the start of
the war, more people are returning from
Jordan to Syria instead of coming from Syria to Jordan. So let me pause on
this for a moment. Refugee camps in Jordan are now
so bad that individuals in them are choosing,
preferring, to go back to the chaos and deprivation
and hardship of civil war rather than to live
in refugee camps. So refugee camps
are, in many ways, not what they’re supposed to be. Namely, places of refuge,
places of security, places where you could access
health care, rights, security, dignity, and so on. So we’ve done a terrible job of
funding the humanitarian relief effort. And again, because there’s no
moral obligation that states “feel.” Anything we do is generous
and anything we don’t do, we should not be criticized
for not doing it. The second outcome of this
asymmetry in obligations is the discrepancy
in burden sharing. So globally speaking,
87% of people who are forcibly displaced
remain in the global south. So, on the one hand. On the other hand, less
than 1% of refugees, of people the UNHCR
designates as refugees, are ever resettled in the west. So that’s a huge discrepancy. And this is, of course,
true in the case of Syria. So though there have been about
650,000 asylum applications in Europe, the vast
majority, of course, remain within Lebanon, Turkey,
and the other countries surrounding it, creating a huge
burden for these countries. So the debate within the Western
media and among politicians is, whether we should
be resettling 1%, 2%, 3% of refugees, and of
course, this doesn’t even come close to addressing the
real core of the problem. It fails to even question
the morality of whether it is acceptable for the
poorest states in the world to bear the biggest burden of
hosting refugee populations. That’s not even a
question that’s raised. Finally, the final outcome of
this asymmetry in obligations, that we have no moral
or legal obligation to resettle refugees
but strong obligations to process asylum
seekers, is that countries in the global north
have been largely concerned with implementing
policies of containment. They’ve aimed to contain refugee
flows as their primary concern rather than to actually
take seriously the rights and dignity of refugees. So this is why the vast
majority of refugees remain in protracted
situations in the global south. Some have argued
that encampment, placing refugees
and long term camps, has become the de
facto fourth solution. This is, in fact, how we’ve
decided to solve the refugee crisis, by keeping them in camps
far away from Western shores. Two thirds of refugees live
in protracted situations, on average for 17 years, and
40% of refugees live in camps and within these camps, they
are not permitted to work, so they are entirely dependent
on international aid, which as I mentioned earlier
is sorely lacking, or illegal work to survive for,
again, these prolonged periods of time in the global south. So to stress, this is
an outcome of the sort of out shoot of how
international law has developed and the way we’ve
chosen to instantiate our moral thinking
about refugees into international law. So northern states have few
obligations or incentives to help refugees not
on their territory. But because of the
strength of the principle of non-refoulement they
have strong incentives to keep refugees as far as
possible from their territory. And this is why
Western states have been largely concerned
with favoring policies of containing
refugee flows outside of Western regions. So in short, Western
states acknowledge that refugees need help,
but at the same time are very anxious to
make sure that they don’t come close to actually
affecting us politically. So this outcome can be seen
when we look at the way the three durable solutions
that I mentioned have actually been put into practice. So in 2014,
according to numbers, there were 59.5 million forcibly
displaced people in the world. 126,000 were able to return
to their home countries. Another 105,000 were resettled
in 20 different countries around the world and there’s
no data on local integration that’s available. So what happens then to the
more than 59.2 million people who are outside of
their homes but do not qualify for any kind
of state protection. The answer is that they remain
in the global south in refugee camps or in informal
settlements in urban areas, supported by largely
underfunded UNHCR. Now there are, of course,
NGO humanitarian groups. And effectively what this is, is
the success of a Western policy that is aimed at
containing refugee flows as far as possible
from Western shores, and this is why the current
crisis is often discussed as a crisis for Europe. It’s a crisis of a failure
of this policy for Europeans and only secondarily,
a humanitarian crisis for the refugees themselves. This is why it’s not surprising
that in the EU’s most recent talks with Turkey, they focused
on how can Turkey do a better job of containing refugees,
rather than on discussing how the basic rights and dignity
of refugees within Turkey can be preserved and
helped and supported. And of course, Europe is not the
only country that’s doing this. There was a recent piece
in the New York Times that revealed that the United
States, in the past year, has paid tens of
millions of dollars to the Mexican government to
intercept asylum seekers coming from Central America to the US. So we all remember our
asylum crisis last year, when we had thousands and
thousands of children crossing over the border in the
south of the United States to seek asylum, and this was
terrible, public relations disaster, we didn’t know what
to do with them, so rather than saying, well, how can
we address the situation at it’s root? How can we set up centers
for protection and aid, and preserve their human rights? Our way of dealing
with the crisis has been to say,
well, what can we do to make sure they don’t
show up in the first place? And what that’s meant is to
pay the Mexican government to intercept asylum
seekers at train stations, migrant centers, other
kinds of shelters, other kinds of
places of protection. So given this very
dreary situation, it’s important to
step back and ask, despite the political
realities of what’s going on, how ought we to think
about our moral obligations to refugees, in light of
the realities of forced displacement in the 21 century? And let me just briefly remind
you what we’re talking about or what this reality is. A population roughly the size
of Italy, 59.5 million people, live outside the protection
of the nation state. When a person finds herself
displaced from her home country, due to war, political
persecution, gang violence, environmental destruction,
she will, on average, remain displaced for
close to a generation and oftentimes longer. Of the forcibly displaced
considered refugees, which is a small, small portion
of those people considered who are displaced,
less than 1% will ever be resettled in the west. Though the number is
slightly higher at the moment for Syrian refugees. So if we do have moral
obligations to refugees, as at least many people have
begun to wonder and discuss out loud, it’s crucial
that we expand our way of thinking about helping
refugees from simply thinking about it in terms
of resettlement to engaging many of
the other forms of harm that they experience. I think we ought to take
seriously the moral obligations to the forcibly
displaced that we have while they are
between their homes. That is, while they’re between
their initial situation of displacement, which
of course everybody agrees is wrong and
bad and terrible, to a solution,
whatever solution that may be, whether
it’s returning home or resettlement or
local integration, which everyone of course
agrees is a good thing. Most of the people
who are displaced remain in these
in between periods for prolonged periods
of time and suffer violations of dignity and
rights in a profound way. One of the specific
harms I think we have a moral
obligation to address is the use of refugee camps to
deny the displaced basic rights and political participation
for prolonged periods of time. I think we morally
ought to challenge the practice of
using camps as spaces of containment and confinement. And of course, this
is a problem that’s distinct from a question
of resettlement, which of course is a different
moral obligation that we have and that we should
discuss, but we ought also to think about how we allow
refugees to be treated while they are displaced,
while they’re awaiting this more permanent solution. The reason the ethical
treatment of the displaced is often ignored is
because it’s seen as both exceptional
and temporary. But displacement is so much a
fact of everyday political life that, far from being
seen as exceptional, it ought to be seen
as a ought to be treated as a normal
outcome of political life. And secondly, rather than being
temporary, as I’ve mentioned, the average displacement
is close to 20 years. This is a long term
duration that we ought to be preparing for
and thinking about morally. So we can’t just think about
immediate humanitarian relief as bodies to be
kept alive but we must think about human beings
in this long term duration that they will be living
in, for increasing longer periods of time in
increasingly large numbers. And in addition, we
ought to challenge the practices of states
that aim to contain refugees in other countries and prevent
them from seeking asylum in a different country. And the right to
seek and enjoy asylum is a foundational right in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the US, I feel like we hear
very often about the brutality of Central America and what
people are fleeing from there and yet, as far
as I know, little has been said about the
Obama administration’s policy of preventing asylum
seekers from coming to the US through paying the Mexican
government to essentially raid migrant shelters,
train stations, and other safe havens,
and forcibly return people to places where their
lives are in danger. This, of course, is
a gross violation of the spirit, if
not the letter, of the law against
non-refoulement. And it’s morally reprehensible,
regardless of how politically expedient it is. So to conclude,
there is, of course, a philosophical debate
over how to ground these moral obligations. There’s an economic debate
over how we would pay for them, and there’s a political
debate over how we would convince
our fellow citizens to take on the challenge
of helping refugees. That’s all true but I think
it would be an achievement if we merely acknowledge the
gross moral injustice that is at the heart of our
current refugee policies and that we have
a moral obligation to consider the treatment
of the displaced through all stages of
their displacement, not just in terms
of resettlement. So to connect my claims
to the recent refugee crisis in Europe, we
can say that on my view, the moral obligation
of the United States to Syrian
refugees is not exhausted by resettling 10,000 refugees. Even though this may seem
like a large number to some, we must continue to ask, what’s
going to happen to the close to 4 million and
growing number of people from Syria that have been
displaced from the war? Under what conditions will
they be forced to live? Even if we are not willing
to resettle more refugees, we are still obliged to ask
this question and the answer to it may require that
we substantially increase our funding, indeed
when we fully fund the humanitarian response,
that we lobby other countries to resettle more
refugees, that we come up with temporary legal
protection statuses and other temporary measures
in surrounding countries that actually protect the
dignity and rights of refugees and not merely keep them
alive in their bodies. We must be concerned with
our ethical obligations to millions of people who will
never be resettled in the west and will spend decades
living in refugee camps that are supported, at least in part,
by the policies of our states that aim to contain refugees
far from our borders. We ought to challenge
states towards building a more just refugee regime,
one that takes seriously the full human rights
of the displaced. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] HARDMAN: Is this on? Okay, thank you all. We now have some
time for questions. As Michelle said,
we’d like you to stand in line at the microphones
if you have questions so that you can be recorded
for the video this event, and I see we have at least
one question over there. We can start with you. AUDIENCE: Blake
Parker, Amnesty MIT. I wanted to compliment Oxfam
for what you do in Zaatari. I’ve hosted and
housed Syrian refugees for the past few years. I have never met one
looking for a handout. Paying them to work
is something that’s needed, just for
their own dignity. They’re not looking
for something for free, they want to earn
a living, and I want to compliment
you guys for that. So the question I
have could either be for you Professor Hardman,
or for Professor Parekh. It’s a refugee issue but
it’s not related to Syria, it’s in Iraq. In Baghdad, at Camp Liberty, the
[? Ash ?] [? Raffi ?] refugees do have a legal and
a moral obligation , signed by Colonel [? Westmont ?]
and I met him at the White House, for their protection. Yet Obama has
completely ignored this. Their protection is
not being afford it. There’s a medical siege and
blockade on Camp Liberty. People are dying because they
can’t receive medication. I sent two doctors that were
turned away under threat of, if they did not turn
around and walk away, they wouldn’t have time
to say their prayers. And so this is a case
where there actually is a legal and a moral obligation. Could you comment
on what might be able to be done to address
something like that, please? One of you? Whoever is qualified? HARDMAN: Perhaps Professor
Leaning or Professor Parekh? LEANING: Well, I can start. The promise was made at a
time when it could be kept and now it can’t be kept,
because the United States is not in control of what’s
happening on the ground in Iraq and these camps are places
that are under various sector controls. So they can exert
influence but as you know, it’s not something that
Obama or the American public have wanted to go back
into with any form of substantial influence
on the ground, which requires people on the
ground and military people on the ground. So there are so many things
that have deteriorated and disintegrated in Iraq and
in Afghanistan that were first marginally working. The US comes in and many things
happen and much is destroyed, the US leaves, and then
whatever the forces are we were trying
to combat, now in a different configuration
are beginning to seep back. And so we are now
dealing with something like Taliban takeover
of Kunduz, which was captured in the first months
of the war in fall of 2001. So this is a cycle
that is going on. It’s bigger than
refugee promises. It is many, many
promises get thrust aside when nation states
go to war, and that’s one of the reasons one
has to pay attention to what you say you’re going to
do when you advance militarily into a place, because
you break things. Now, coming back
to the protection that is created by a military
document that is transmitted to the Commander in Chief. That is not part of refugee law. That is part of occupation and
in an occupation setting, which is what we did actually
impose on Iraq. And that was one
of the reasons why there was a lot of contention
about the use of occupation, because occupation law
has enormous obligations towards the population that
is under your occupation authority, including protecting
stigmatized minorities. That goes up through
the Commander in Chief and he can decide yes or no,
if he’s going to honor it, within the context
of the occupation. But it’s not part of
international refugee law. It’s basically part of the
Fourth Geneva Convention. But as we came out and
the occupation ended, then you’re really much in a
level of a moral obligation of a state to a small segment
of a population to which it is actually more
thoroughly obligated, but this one was
particularly singled out. How can that be
actually actualized into a practical response? And I’ve given you the practical
answer that it can’t but I’d be interested in what
the philosopher says. AUDIENCE: Thank you. HARDMAN: Parekh? PAREKH: So to me
it seems like it’s symptomatic of a larger
condition under which refugees are treated. So even when there
are legal norms, like the norms around
non-refoulement, states routinely violate
them and states do not call each other out on that. There are many, many examples
of the human rights of refugees being routinely
violated, but states are very interested
in making sure that they don’t criticize each
other over their treatment of refugees, precisely
so that they themselves are aren’t criticized over
their treatment of refugees. So it’s a very small, particular
instance of this larger problem, that these
are our population who have no state to appeal
to for their human rights. There’s no body who’s going
to adjudicate their claims and so states know that. And they know that
they can sort of fudge their promises to refugees
in ways that they can’t, maybe other people like
their citizens, or citizens of other states. HARDMAN: I’m going to take
a question over here next. AUDIENCE: Thank you. First, thank you for a
very informative discussion and dialogue that’s
very much needed. My question’s not
necessarily in line with this but more so, given the economic
and climate change associated and another exasperating factors
with migration populations, what is the role and how do
we address the role of NGOs, transnational corporations,
and other non-state actors in their, facilities
in their addressing of international
development as a preemptive act but also as they’re
doing work on the ground and in crises like this. One of the examples
I’m thinking about currently is in Kiribati
in Fiji, the continuing of bottled water
by the Fiji company while people are trying to
buy land to just grow food. Or even right here
at home, Oakland, where Nestle continues
to bottle water while there’s a drought
going on in California. PAREKH: Like this? AUDIENCE: Yes. HARDMAN: Nahuel, I
think [INAUDIBLE]. ARENAS: Yeah, so can you
repeat your question? What is your question? AUDIENCE: My question
was just how do we as an international
community and as academics and individuals address
the role of NGOs and transnational corporations
and non-state actors and in their practices in the
realm of how their actions impact global migration issues? ARENAS: Wow, OK. LEANING: Can I suggest? You began by asking a
really good question around environmental
degradation and drought and diminishing water supplies,
and what are NGOs doing, A, to address that in
a way that keeps people home rather than has
them flee or what or who are the bad
guys that are there, and how is that
being dealt with? And Oxfam is one of
the good guys that deals with that, so you’re on. [LAUGHTER] ARENAS: Okay and perhaps
we can link with it with climate issues at the
source of the Syria conflict. I don’t know if
you/ But you know, from an Oxfam perspective,
when we do different things, we are a multi-minded
organization. We do long term
programming, which address climate change
issues, agriculture, the rights of people. We do emergency
response such as what you’ve seen in my presentation. But we also do
advocacy and campaign, and we try to do the three of
them in an integrated manner. So when we address a
problem, a symptom, we also look at what
are the rights of people that are being affected. So that’s how we approach it
and sometimes in our companies we target the private
sector, sometimes we are allies of the
private sector, depending on what is the issue. In the– you mentioned the
South Pacific climate change. It’s a very visual thing. I’ve been to the Solomon Islands
and I’ve been in the response to the cyclone
[INAUDIBLE] this year and you can hear
stories of people that have to be relocated
from islands because of the rise of the sea level. And so in those
kind of situations, we try to help
people, first of all, adapt to their new
realities, perhaps those are technical
solutions out there but also we try to address the
issues around the policies. How the government is addressing
the problem structurally. That’s what I– I think
that’s at least our approach. Other organizations have
different approaches and I think they’re all valid. Some of them have a
very clear mandates to do medical assistance
and that’s fine. Others look at more
globally or– but that’s the Oxfam approach. Do you want to say
something about climate change in the Syrian conflict? ALJUNDI: Yeah, I mean, not only
the climate change, I think. The key approach of
Oxfam, as Nahuel said, it’s about empowering
the local actors. So in the Syrian
context, empowering the local actors is not
an easy, especially we have historically a
weak civil society. So when the conflict
started, you have like half of
the country or 60% of the country in hard to
reach or opposition, out of the regime control, of the
Syrian government controlled areas. So how to access this? We have the
[INAUDIBLE] people who took the lead at the
beginning and started providing mostly
medical, shelter, and some other services. What are the things we are
trying to do some, like how to empower these
as a local actor or as a bridge between the
international community, the international NGOs,
and the local communities in these areas. So that’s one of the issues
we are trying to work. The other thing is,
Oxfam also tried to make the people to
help the people to decide what they want. So in Syria, even before I
work with Aga Khan foundation and this, the drought. I was in Syria and we
have a very heavy drought in 2006, 2009,
and the government was going the wrong direction. They were providing help
for drip irrigation. You have a critical
problem with drought and you are giving
the people loans. So we work on the
capacity of people, raising their awareness,
how to consume less water, not to use the water,
only more efficiently. Because according to their
policies, what was happening is more production from the–
and more consumption at the end of the water resources. So the key issue was to empower
the local people to design and to help them to
decide what they need and to think strategically. And I think this is one of
the issue Oxfam is good at. HARDMAN: Thank you. I’m going to take a
question over there next. AUDIENCE: Well,
we have to wonder what the end game is
here, whether it’s resettlement or repatriation? David Cameron has announced
that Syrian refugees who come to the UK, which few
can get in, once they reach a majority age of
18, will be returned to their country of origin. There’s no, as I understand
it, right of resettlement, but there is a right of
return in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There’s also one in the Covenant
on Political and Human Rights. But that, too, is a
very vague concept, so if people are
unwilling to return, should they be returned
by countries which have volunteered to resettle them? And secondly, people
who wish to return but are being forcibly
barred from return, such as Palestinians,
should we make an exception in the right of return? How strong is our
right and obligation is the right of
return, depending on the context in which
it’s being defined? HARDMAN: Thank you. Does anyone have a– yes? PAREKH: So, I’d be
happy to answer that. So the question
of repatriation is that it’s always
voluntary repatriation though what I’ve read
is that in recent years, the UNHCR, the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees who adjudicates these
sorts of matters, has changed the
definition of voluntary. It’s no longer means that
it’s voluntary on the part of the people who
are being returned. It means that the
UNHCR has determined that the country,
the home country, is in a state in
which people ought to want to return home to. So it’s taken the agency
away from refugees in determining whether or not
they should or should not be returned to their home country. So there is still an element
of voluntary-ness there. People can’t be
forced to be returned, but it has moved away
from a subjective concept of voluntary-ness to
an objective concept of voluntary-ness. So that’s the first part. The second thing I wanted to
mention about your question is that I think when we
think about, well, what is the solution for refugees? Is that either repatriation
or is it resettlement? Are we just going to
resettle every refugee that comes from every conflict? And I think there’s kind
of a false dichotomy there because ultimately,
everyone wants a solution. As Ali mentioned earlier,
most refugees want to be home. Most human beings want to
be in their home country. That’s their home, that’s
where they would like to be. So if people are not going
home, we can assume, I think, that it’s for good reason. Now, having said
that, of course, the States aren’t going
to be opening their doors to resettling refugees. So I really think
that we ought to be taking more seriously this
interim period of displacement. It’s the case now that people
live not just their lives, but the lives of their children
and their children’s children. People have generations
in refugee camps in this time between
displacement and solution, whatever form that
takes, and we just don’t pay enough
attention to that, either politically or morally. And we end up contributing
to all kinds of policies and practices that
actually undermine the life of refugees in ways
that don’t need to be done. So for example, the
use the refugee camps as long term ways of hosting
displaced populations isn’t necessary. And from a public
health point of view, it’s often very
critiqued as not even being the best
way of doing this. So if we can focus a little
bit on this in between, certainly, look at the end
game and look at the solution, but I sometimes worry that
looking at the solution detracts us from
this reality which is that most
displaced people are going to live their lives
as displaced people. And we ought to treat them
well while they are displaced. We should not be
allowed to suggest them to systematic deprivations
of their human rights while they’re displaced, just
because they’re displace. HARDMAN: Professor Leaning? LEANING: Well, I would
say that legal definitions and practical definitions
that are accepted by everybody are useful because this
world is built on migration and people are moving
for all kinds of reasons. The extent to which
migration both distressed and truly voluntary,
I want to get to a better job
within my own country, the ways in which nation states
deal with that are always within the context of
protectionist sovereignty in natural borders. So internal migration
within your country, if it’s promoting
economic growth is great. If it’s because people can’t
live in one part of the country and need to go somewhere else
for a range of reasons, which is sort of a root cause of the
Syrian war because of drought and ridiculous state policies
in relationship to drought, then it winds up being a
source of internal security and the government
has to deal with it. Now in that context, just
the way I’m describing it, this is not an
international problem. But it’s when the issues
within one country begin to create people
leaving their country that we get into the issues
that are at a level of international discussion
and, right now, consternation. And so there, I think, we
need to use the language that currently exists, for a
moment, think about how states are going to respond. There still is a distinction
between refugees and generally, externally displaced people. Externally displaced. There are people who leave who
are not designated as refugees yet, they have just fled. All four million of the
Syrians that are now in Lebanon, Turkey,
Iraq, and Jordan, and Egypt, and
wherever else they are, all of them have
been designated, blanket, as refugees by UNHCR. They are, therefore,
to be treated seriously for asylum cases. Now where they can go
and how they get there and how they get a hearing
is another question, but all of them, and
many of the four million are people who have come
from refugee camps already, they have all been
designated as refugees. So that is off the
table as an argument. They now need to go
through the process and that’s a very good thing. The process may
take months or years but that designation
is what people have fought for in many other
battles and never gotten. Okay. Now, the millions
that are displaced because of distress in their
own country and they leave, many of them are what we are
now calling distressed migrants and that’s where I
think some of the issues that we’re talking
about here apply. That is, they’re
outside their country, they do not have a home
they can go back to, they do somehow find
their place somewhere, or they are in
these vast refugee camps that actually include
a whole lot of people that are not refugees. They’re just being warehoused. So the camps on the border
between Kenya and Somalia, those camps are filled
with people who would never qualify as refugees. But they can’t go back,
because of war and fighting, or they’re coming in
from parts of Kenya and going into the refugee
camp because there’s a little bit more aid there. Because Kenya is becoming
terrible to live in, particularly the
north desert area. So you have these
great numbers of people who are not yet classified
as one thing or another and it is a misery. And this is where I
completely agree with you. We need to be
thinking about people who are in these transit zones. Being in a transit and
gray zone for generations is an appalling dilemma. It’s not really a
condition of life that meets safety, dignity, and
attends to any of the values we’ve enshrined in
international law. And I think that the
International Committee is slowly coming to recognized
that this is not tenable. And yet it’s also not
tenable within some of the nation states. I mean, Nigeria has the
third largest number of IDPs in the world. Now, Nigeria’s big, so you
could have a whole section of that population head
around Lagos and Abuja, and they’d have
the largest number. But still, when you
think that there are IDPs on the
outskirts of Nigeria that basically are bigger than
the ground area of like Lagos, similarly with Kabul. They’re IDPs and the extension
of the footprint of Kabul is now all DPs from
elsewhere in Afghanistan. So the problem of
classification of refugees is tight and problematic, but at
least it’s a little bit stable. And what we have no
way of classifying right now are these people
who are externally displaced in these gray areas, and some
of them are in refugee camps, many of them are in the cities,
or in these distress countries where much of the
population of urban areas are really composed
of people who’ve fled untenable parts
of that nation state to be around an area
where there’s just a little bit of
commercial activity and a little bit of anonymity. This is what’s happening
around the world and then on top of that, we
have this massive flow to Europe that is arresting our attention. HARDMAN: Thank you. I’d like to take
one last question. AUDIENCE: Thank you. HARDMAN: Tell us who you are. AUDIENCE: I’m from Tufts
University, I’m a student. And I just want
to know, we talked about norms and obligations that
states should have to refugees, but we’ve seen that even
obligations that states agree to in international
agreements they don’t abide by when it’s not
their incentive to do so. And so I was wondering,
what you think it requires for states
to have an incentive to actually help refugees and
to fulfill their obligations? Do you think it’s a moot
point to consider that? And do you think
NGOs are actually going to be the ones
doing most of the work and we shouldn’t really think
about states as incentives? PAREKH: That’s a
terrific question. Absolutely not a moot point, I
think a fairly profound point. How do you actually
motivate states to consider the
interest of refugees who, by definition,
are outside of the zone of moral consideration,
we by definition don’t have to worry about
what refugees think about us or what they say about us or
whether they like us or not? You’re absolutely right. So the way I think about
it is, if we in the West, if we in the US, for example,
could even acknowledge that what we are doing, our
policies towards refugees, was problematic, was
morally problematic, in ways that I feel like– I mean,
there’s a parallel with the way we’ve thought about global
poverty for a long time. It used to be, well,
there are poor countries who are poor because
they made bad decisions and we can help them out
when we feel like it. I feel like now there’s a
consensus that well, that’s a too simplistic of a
view of global poverty and we’re actually
systematically interrelated in the
causes of poverty and it’s not just
they made mistakes. It’s actually a result of
our policies around finance and development and
so on and so forth, and therefore our
obligations are to actually reformulate
a system so that it’s more just in the future. I feel like just changing
our thinking around refugees to actually understand
what’s really at stake and how the crisis, or what
the problems around containment of the displaced and warehousing
are the result of our policies and our interest in
keeping refugees contained. I feel like if we
in the West actually acknowledge that, at least we
would be able to discuss it. At least it would
become something within the frame of our
moral consideration. It will always be an uphill
battle getting people to think about helping people
who we get nothing from, essentially. And some people
have argued, well, we can’t fight that battle. We should always just
think about incentives. Stability, security, there are
good political motivations, economic motivations you could
give to countries to care about refugees, but I think
at the end of the day, if you don’t have that
strong moral foundation to those principles,
they don’t tend to amount to much because often
they’re not as strong as people would like to believe. So I think it’s a really, really
profound and important question to think about how
to motivate it. And I am not hopeless,
I am very optimistic. People have changed how
they think about refugees historically,
people have changed how they’ve thought
about the global poor, people have changed how they’ve
thought about victims as people not in need of help, say
during the Second World War, to people who are
completely entitled our aid and we did something
terrible in not helping them. But it takes time, and
it takes awareness, and it takes a change in global
politics to make that happen. Thank you. HARDMAN: I said that
was the last question but there’s one question here. AUDIENCE: Hello. I’m an architect. I used to work in
Damascus during 2009 and now I’m
formulating my thesis in urban design
around the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. I have two questions for Arenas. You referred to the need
for open, safe, legal routes to asylum. I was wondering if
there are precedents, legal precedents on that? And then a second
question would be if you have an opinion
or an explanation why the east Mediterranean route
rised as the first entry point to Europe this year? And then, since there has been
a lot of references on camps, I was wondering
who has the agency on designing these camps? ARENAS: When I was referring
to other safer and legal routes to third countries,
I was thinking about world based immigration,
about university places, about possibilities for
family reunification. That’s what I was referring to. I think that in terms
of what we know, why people risk their
lives and get in the boats and try to get to Europe. This trip is expensive– AUDIENCE: I think my question
is more why they do it through the east
Mediterranean route, whereas until 2014 it
was mostly through Italy. So I was wondering,
what is your opinion about the shift from
Italy to Greece, if there is an explanation
that you came up through your research? ARENAS: No, I didn’t
do research on that. But what I know is that
recently many search and rescue operations in Italy have
been shifted to border patrol and that makes a
lot of difference. LEANING: Could I just
comment on that one thing? And then because you’ve got
another big one to answer, but– We don’t know what
a lot that people actually want, these hundreds of
thousands who are moving. And this is already a
very interesting question for the NGOs and UNHCR. They’re developing ways in
which they might sort of have cellphone conversations with
people as a way of serving them because there are a mix of
motives as people are moving. But what we understand, and I
actually have just gotten this through the zeitgeist, so I
can’t give you a reference, is that Italy has made it very
difficult during those years when it was the favored place. And now most of the
refugees who are coming out are actually looking
for a place where they can make not just
a life from day to day, but they can make a really
good life, a reasonable life. I mean, their aspirations are
getting a little bit assertive, which is fabulous, but they
realized that Italy is not going to be a place for them. Even though, they
want to get higher up in the northern countries
where there are odds that they could actually get a job. Italy is not the
place where they’re going to make a livelihood. So that there’s a set
of economic reasons that are making people
go through Greece and then get as far north
as they can quickly. And this is what is fascinating
about the agencies of refugees, and I might want to temper
a little bit what you said, which is the receiving nations
are those that are watching the people trying to come in. They don’t necessarily
think that these refugees will get to them. There’s a huge
argument and you’re the expert on this, Anna, but
what is the economic value of a refugee or a
distressed migration person, if not classic refugee. There’s a lot of
data on both sides to suggest they’re really
valuable over the next several years, or actually over
the first few years they’re kind of a drag and
then they get valuable, or that they’re
never valuable, which I think most analysts
would say is poppycock. So this issue of
they’re trying to find a life means they’re going to
try to be part of the world. And that is, I think, behind
their saying Italy is not a good way station. HARDMAN: I think
another thing is that Italy was
attractive but for people already in camps in
Turkey, for example, it was much easier to leave
and go through Greece. Greece used to
have a land border which people could cross. It was extremely porous. That land border was
closed with a fence and it was after that
fence was completed that a much larger
fraction of people started being obliged to use
a much more dangerous sea route to cross into Greece. And I think not with the
expectation of staying there but rather with the expectation
that they would expedite their journey
beyond to countries where people really
did want to suffer. It’s not that Greece
and its current crisis was an attractive destination. ALJUNDI: So may I add something? HARDMAN: Yes, please. ALJUNDI: Both Greece and Italy,
they are transit countries. I have five of my
family, my siblings, they travel to Sweden
but through Greece. It is easier to go from Turkey. And they are not destination,
I mean both, so this is why. ARENAS: In Macedonia,
people spend sometimes hours to get from one border
to the other and then continue. When people stay in
Serbia two, three days, it’s because they are
queueing to be registered. They have no interest
in staying there. HARDMAN: I think
an important lesson is that refugees just
like other migrants, just like everyone else,
are rational people who are looking, given the
resources they have, to achieve the best they can for
themselves, for their families. It may be a single
person migrating but with a refugee,
in other words, but somebody who’s
migrating in order to send money back to their
family who may have been left behind in a camp somewhere or in
an informal settlement outside of town. ALJUNDI: Most of the
people who arrive to Europe are middle income. Because it cost my
siblings, each one I think about 8,000 euros
to reach Sweden, which is not available to anybody. So this is why. HARDMAN: Okay, we’re
definitely over time. It’s my job to close
this discussion and I want to thank the
panelists very much. Thank you all for coming
and I hope some of us will be continuing this
conversation in the aisles. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

Danny Hutson

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