Le Monde, 15.09.17

I think the issue of refugees is taking a toll on French media. I guess it’s pretty normal, because of what is happening in the Middle East and the arrival of waves of refugees in Europe. But I can’t stand how politicians use them for their own agenda. How can you, again, mix up a refugee and a migrant? Seriously? How can you pretend to govern a country when you don’t seem to be able to make a pretty simple difference. You only have to google “refugee definition” and you will end up on the UNHCR website, explaining it to you in a really easy article:

Yes, there is a difference [between “refugees” and “migrants”], and it does matter. The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations. Here’s why:

Refugees are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution. There were 19.5 million of them worldwide at the end of 2014. Their situation is often so perilous and intolerable that they cross national borders to seek safety in nearby countries, and thus become internationally recognized as “refugees” with access to assistance from States, UNHCR, and other organizations. They are so recognized precisely because it is too dangerous for them to return home, and they need sanctuary elsewhere. These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences.

Refugees are defined and protected in international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol as well as other legal texts, such as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, remain the cornerstone of modern refugee protection. The legal principles they enshrine have permeated into countless other international, regional, and national laws and practices. The 1951 Convention defines who is a refugee and outlines the basic rights which States should afford to refugees. One of the most fundamental principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat.

The protection of refugees has many aspects. These include safety from being returned to the dangers they have fled; access to asylum procedures that are fair and efficient; and measures to ensure that their basic human rights are respected to allow them to live in dignity and safety while helping them to find a longer-term solution. States bear the primary responsibility for this protection. UNHCR therefore works closely with governments, advising and supporting them as needed to implement their responsibilities.

Migrants choose to move not because of a direct threat of persecution or death, but mainly to improve their lives by finding work, or in some cases for education, family reunion, or other reasons. Unlike refugees who cannot safely return home, migrants face no such impediment to return. If they choose to return home, they will continue to receive the protection of their government.

Now, I’d like governments to stop talking shit. In this article, it is said that Valls made the difference between asylum seekers and “economic migrants”. That’s a first step. Refugees are not coming to take your job; they’re trying to protect their own lives. It is difficult to accept them all at once, in good conditions, but Lebanon is overloaded with refugees representing 20% of the Lebanese population. HELLO! And are they trying to close their borders? Are they trying to create quotas to avoid having too many people ending up in dirty camps? No, because it wouldn’t be acceptable. It is ok because they are Muslim too? Are you kidding me? The old song of the “Christian” Europe, not being able to handle Muslims, is bullshit.

And when I see this, I really wonder what will happen when, in addition to conflict refugees, we will have millions of catastrophe refugees rolling to our borders because of natural disasters. Are we going to send them back, saying that we can’t deal with them? What if their homeland simply disappeared?
I do believe that it is time that we start thinking about refugees more globally, on a geographic scale, but also on a “type” scale. Refugee populations are definitely going to increase in the next decades and we won’t be able to ignore them.


Listening to: Dr. Dre – Kush


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