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Europe is Turning Away Even More Refugees Than America. By Roger Algase

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The United States is not the only country in the world which has to deal with a desperate humanitarian crisis at its borders.

The Huffington World Post reports (Why Thousands of Refugees Have Drowned Trying to Get to Europe This Year, September 20):

"Tens of thousands attempt the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe each year. Paying smugglers small fortunes to be transported in what are often ramshackle boats, they hope to escape war or poor economic conditions and settle in the European Union. Many never make it across. This year alone, nearly 3,000 people are believed to have died while trying to reach Southern Europe."

The article quotes Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, as follows:

"There's a very steep increase in the number of people crossing from the North African coast toward Europe. About 60,000 people crossed last year. Today, in mid-September, we are at 130,000, more than twice as much. There's also been a dramatic increase in the number of people dying at sea. We estimate about 700 people died last year and now the figures are anything between 2,200 and 2,500 without counting last week's deaths."

Gabaudan also explains why many Syrian refugees in Egypt, where they are no longer welcome, are seeking to enter Europe:

"Many of these families have relatives in Europe and they're becoming desperate about their future. We warned them that the trip they were about to undertake wasn't light, their women were at high risk of being abused by traffickers, they could drown and they would certainly not receive an open-armed welcome in Europe. Why would they want to take this risk? They told us their economies are gone; they don't have jobs; they don't have access to services; their children are not going to school. '

It's dramatic that people are reaching that level of desperation."

Gabaudan continues by saying that there is more that European countries could do to help the refugees it they wanted to:

"The High Commissioner for Refugees has suggested several measures to the international community that could reduce the flow of migrants - people recognized as refugees should be given better chances of resettlement in European countries, many people could qualify for humanitarian visas...A lot of measures would give refugees a little bit more hope and reduce the movement. If you reduce the movement, you'll have less people die."

He concludes:

"Right now, in Lebanon, one person in four is a Syrian refugee. It's one in six in Jordan. In Iraqi Kurdistan, one in four are people displaced by the current violence. In our countries, the presence of 40,000 kids at the border becomes national drama and is used politically. The sacrifice we are making is nothing compared to what other countries are making and we seem to ignore that."
(Emphasis added.)

Countries on both sides of the Atlantic need to give more priority to legal measures protecting the human rights of refugees, instead of closing their borders against people who are desperately trying to escape intolerable conditions in places such as the Middle East and Central America.

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Updated 09-21-2014 at 11:20 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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