Though nothing is more heart wrenching than death and life-changing injuries caused by the fury of war, getting chased out of your home and wandering from country to country with you distraught family and your meager belongings tucked inside your carry-on luggage is another scourge of war which is no less devastating.
"War, violence and persecution left one in every 122 humans on the planet a refugee," writes The Guardian. Other reports have confirmed that the population of refugees around the world has far exceeded 50 million, more than it was during WW2.
However, few sources are forthright enough to say that the sudden escalation of displaced people in post WW2 era has occurred largely since the start of the 3rd millennium. In the past 15 years countries across northern Middle-East .. up to Afghanistan .. have been locked in preemptive wars for over 13 years initiated by foreign powers. Additionally, deadly copycat persecutions/genocide erupting in US/EU-friendly regions of south and south-east Asia stimulated by negative precedents set by imperial powers have helped to deepen the misery.
Those fleeing from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia for a 'better life' are portrayed as part of the "migrant" crisis to downplay a horde of displaced men, women, children and elderly from devastated war zones. People from poorer countries taking perilous journeys to settle in richer countries for better economic prospects is no new story. It has been a way of life for over a century. But only recently it became a significantly worrisome agenda within the circles of European and North American policy makers. Among the new generation of refugees at least 70% have been affected by wars across the Middle East and Afghanistan beginning 2002 and 2003.
History tells us that dictatorship, no matter how awful, hasn't proven to be quite half as terrible as war and the persecution that follows.
A total of 4 million Syrians have left home since the start of the war in 2011. That is, nearly a fifth of Syria's population! At present, not only have the terrorist fighters of Al Qaeda left Syria and Iraq in ruins but US and Britain are doing the same through disguised air strikes and an intentional failure to contain their pseudo Al Qaeda enemies. The situation is too dire for Syrian civilians to be interested in Twitter debates or choosing political icons any longer. Caught between rocket launchers/chemical weapons/brutal occupations of the invading terrorists and the bombs of their government, they can only think of getting away and saving their lives. Though it needs to be mentioned that if the Syrian government had to handle only its indigenous people as in a genuine homegrown civil unrest, the necessity for dropping bombs would probably never arise.
"Refugees and migrants across Libya face rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs," according to a new Amnesty International briefing published in May 2015. From an estimated one million Libyan refugees since 2011, half of them (Gaddafi supporters) have sought asylum in Tunisia and at least 300,000 in Europe, mostly in Italy. Until the 20th century, Italy's little-known boat people were sub-Saharan Africans and Bangladeshis. They now include Syrians, Libyans, Afghanis, Iraqis and Palestinians.
Until March 2015, no less than one million have fled Nigeria fearing the growing strength of Boko Haram (Al Qaeda in Nigeria) that has been working with Al Qaeda's top sub-group, ISIL. Boko Haram has been sending hundreds of militants to Libya to assist ISIL takeover of the war torn country amidst the messy infighting of other so-called jihadis within Libya like Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade (ASMB) founded by LIFG and Ansar al Sharia (part of al Qaeda’s international network). The contrast couldn't be more startling from the tranquil epoch of the former green Libya. Boko Haram's resources have more than doubled since the fall of Libya at the hands of NATO and LIFG, and following the partial occupations of Syria and Iraq by ISIL.
Europe and Britain have indulged in plenty of dog-whistle rhetoric on the dangers of taking in more "migrants" (they won't say 'refugees'). Anti-refugee policies in European countries are giving rise to rightist politics and fear-mongering over immigration and the acceptance of asylum seekers. Hungary is afraid that refugees from the Middle-East will "undermine Europe's Christian roots." Hungarian PM, Victor Orban, couldn't care less how many terrorists gate-crashed into Syria, Iraq or Libya. He is only focused on keeping Hungary "migrant-free." He has been busy building up a hate campaign specifically against Muslim refugees since months. Quoting Orban's xenophobic narrative which is clearly the result of his own deep insecurity sprouting from Europe's secular culture: "We must not forget that those who are coming in have been brought up under a different religion and represent a profoundly different culture. The majority are not Christians but Muslims. That is an important question because Europe and European culture have Christian roots. Or is it not already, and in itself, alarming that Europe's Christian culture is barely able to uphold Europe's own Christian values ?"
Few days ago the world should have been more shocked at the images of a female Hungarian photo-journalist (also a member of the anti-immigration group) who was caught on camera sticking out her foot at a Syrian refugee father carrying his little son, causing both to fall near the notorious Roszke immigrant camp on the Hungary-Serbia border. Roszke inside Hungary, is another very controversial camp similar to many of those concentration camps for Rohingyas in present-day Burma. Recently a Youtube video showed refugees at Roszke Camp being "fed like animals in a pen" with an assemblage of Hungarians in front of the camp preventing the refugees from stepping out of its premises and the Hungarian police throwing sandwiches at the asylum seekers.
European anxiety over second generation refugees has to do more with religion and culture rather than color.
The law manipulating game is also involved which most of us have overlooked. There is a difference between migrants and refugees. 'Migrants' would be defined as people who voluntarily move from place to place searching for work or those who leave one country to settle in another permanently as immigrants. 'Refugees' don't leave voluntarily. They are people who are forced to leave their country of origin either because of war, persecution or natural disaster. Obviously Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans fleeing the terrorist onslaught in their countries belong to the latter category. Yet, why are they perpetually referred as 'migrants' and not 'refugees' by European authorities?'
"Countries are free to deport migrants who arrive without legal papers, which they cannot do with refugees under the 1951 convention. So it is not surprising that many politicians in Europe prefer to refer to everyone fleeing to the continent as migrants." - New York Times.
Migrant or Refugee? There Is a Difference, With Legal Implications
Refugee crisis will no doubt create greater economic pressure on Europe. But that is a price Europe must pay for supporting America's wars. Europeans would need to be very stupid if they hadn't already expected it; and the United States won't step in to share Europe's responsibilities. Every economic misery that is Europe's pain is America's gain.