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Thursday, September 3, 2015

How To Think About A Solution To The Humanitarian Crisis of Displaced Persons

As I am writing this, the European Union is discussing how to "deal" with the striking humanitarian crisis created by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, predominantly from Iraq and Syria in the Schengen countries of the EU. The main line of the 'European' response hitherto has been verbal attacks on "human smugglers and traffickers" (who couldn't care less) and ineffectual gestures toward an abstract category of "refugees" as a depersonalized and passive mass.

Those are  painfully inadequate reactions that do not address the causes of the crisis. Here is what I think needs to be done.

1. The European Union and NATO should jointly admit that the destruction of Iraq was a war crime, and that their continued actions--I repeat, actions by organizations that are part of 'Europe'--have led to humanitarian catastrophes in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of western and south Asia.

2. Based on that, the EU Commission should openly admit to its direct, unconditional and unlimited responsibility for the suffering of the war torn societies, including the plight of the millions of displaced persons--not only those arriving in Europe but also those who have been killed, maimed, otherwise injured, and those who have sought refuge in the neighboring countries, primarily in Lebanon and Turkey.

3. As a logical conclusion to point 2 above, the European Union (very much including Germany) should openly admit responsibility for the future of the people whose lives have been destroyed in these wars, including those who are bound for western Europe and those who are not deciding to go there.

4. The wars in Iraq and Syria must be stopped. A multinational Peace Conference should be organized, with all relevant states of the world, including all permanent members of the UN Security Council, participating and offering tangible, material guarantees for the implementation of whatever resolutions may be brought in the Peace Conference. Those countries which initiated the wars on these societies must foot the bill of the Conference as well as post-war peace building and reconstruction.

5. Immediate, unconditional political asylum to all displaced persons in the European Union. No forced quotas: They should be allowed to settle in whichever EU country they wish.

6. European-Union-wide policies and funds must be created to foster the integration of the newcomers in their new home countries, including generous settlement assistance, health care, as well as assistance in finding jobs, language training, general education, labor re-training and small business assistance schemes (loans as well as legal and marketing assistance).

7. EU-wide policies and funds must be committed to the building of new transnational institutions to create new kinds of nonviolent, non-exploitative linkages between the European Union and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, providing institutional vehicles for the integration of these societies in a regional system for the  flows of people, knowledge, culture, as well as commodities and capital. The main objective of these institutions should be the creation of new forms of integration, not a racist insistence on the early repatriation of the asylees.

Short of this, all the talk about smugglers and traffickers, all the tears shed for the dead adults and children, are completely inauthentic and simply not credible.


  1. Don't forget that Germany and France strongly opposed the destruction of Iraq, while all Eastern European members supported the war. The latter should be forced to accept a big part of the refugees.


cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta