In space as airports, borders or in refugee camps today our human dignity dissolves into a digitalized humanity where the data substitutes the individual, says Hamid Dabashi.
- Lebanon is hosting approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees, (almost 25 per cent of Lebanon’s population), of which one million are officially registered with the United Nation, and mostly live in informal camps (known as informal tented settlements) scattered around the country.
- Kusai only talks about returning home to Syria. Navigating the Islamist checkpoints and shoot-to-kill Turkish border guards to reach the destroyed city of Aleppo is preferable to waiting for the border to open.
- On March 18 the European leaders agreed on a plan with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to Europe, called the EU-Turkey Statement, which is well know by now for its controversy. The deal was presented as the last resort for the EU to address the migration crisis amid growing division among the member states on how to handle it. During the summer of 2015, confrontation among member states grew, as two opposing strategies revealed different visions to address the migration crisis.
- Over the last years, we witnessed the worst refugee crisis since World War II (1); starting from 2011, when level stood at 42.5 million, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide has steadily increased, reaching up to 59.5 millions individuals at the end of 2014. As the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) continued to grow, it is likely that the total number of forced migrants have far surpassed 60 million (2) in 2015. The rapid acceleration in the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide characterize the current situation in a way that lead politicians, journalists and public opinion to consider it as a migration or refugee crisis. This is fiercely affecting the European Union, as a growing number of migrants are reaching its boarders seeking protection. While the EU is facing this challenge, a debate has been going on at both media and political level concerning the differences between refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants.
- Europe will welcome 160,000 refugees in 2015. Each member state will be called upon to receive a quota in proportion to their economic and demographic size. This is the proposal put forward by the EU Commission’s President Jean-Claude Junker in his ‘State of the Union’ speech on Wednesday. Germany has been promoting this plan and has been putting it into action for some time, giving the the states, the Länder, responsibility for sharing the burden of managing asylum seekers. They are allocated on the basis of the so-called “Königsteiner key”, a system created in the ‘50s and originally aimed at spreading over what was then West Germany the funds destined for research.
- From 2004 onwards, with the EU moving eastward, anti-foreigner attitudes reappeared. The beliefs in Polish plumbers invading western regions, Bulgarian workers “stealing” jobs, and Rumanians (allegedly) promoting illegal activities became widespread in some European societies. This mirrors what happened in the past century, including in 1903 when a royal commission report on the so-called “alien immigration” to the UK discussed Central and Eastern European immigration (at the time mostly of Jews), and, to try to ban it, used words which sound very familiar to us: overcrowding, lack of jobs, and shortage of housing. These nationalist anti-immigrant tendencies resurface quite frequently in European history. The difference is how we approach them and how one frames public debates.
- On June 17th the Hungarian government decided to close its border with Serbia, securing it with metal fencing all along its 175 kilometres. Controversy is rampant. The Serbian government is outraged, with the press reporting on yet another wall in the European fortress. Associations active in the field of migrants’ human rights have, euphemistically speaking, expressed perplexity. According to the Hungarian government, closing the border will stop the flow of migrants that has affected the country in recent months. They almost all transit through Serbia, a fundamental part of the “Balkan route.” Migrants also travel to Europe by land. Frontex, the European agency responsible for monitoring and controlling borders, has reported that, in the first six months of 2015, the same number of people have arrived in Europe from the two Mediterranean routes (one leading to Sicily and the other to Greece) and from the Balkans, amounting to 50,000 migrants.
- After a hundred individuals were kept in arbitrary detention at the Karmooz Police station in Alexandria, Egypt, they began a hunger strike to bring international attention to their plight. But their last battle started in October 2014. The majority of the 74 refugees-detainees in Karmooz police station are part of a group of Syrian and Palestinian-Syrians that left from Turkey by boat on 23 October last year. They wanted to reach their family members in Europe, but they were arrested in early November 2014 by Egyptian coast guards, after becoming victims of the smuggler mafia.
- In recent days the UNHCR has invited donor countries to provide the necessary financial assistance needed for humanitarian aid in Libya and neighbouring countries. In the meantime it continues to work with local agencies on the shores of the Mediterranean. In some cases work also consists of searching for people who have taken to the sea and for whom all trace has been lost.