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Refugees & EU: Win-Win for both

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Croatian police escort refugees to the border police station in Tovarnik, east of Croatia, Sept. 16, 2015. The first group of around 80 refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, entered Croatia from Serbia via the border passing Tovarnik on Wednesday morning

Mass migration could be turned into a win-win situation for both – the EU and the refugees. Because the continent presently has a low birth rate – 1.6 per woman – while at least 2.11 is needed to sustain both the population level….writes Ahmad Shariq Khan

Croatian police escort refugees to the border police station in Tovarnik, east of Croatia, Sept. 16, 2015. The first group of around 80 refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, entered Croatia from Serbia via the border passing Tovarnik on Wednesday morning
Croatian police escort refugees to the border police station in Tovarnik, east of Croatia, Sept. 16, 2015. The first group of around 80 refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, entered Croatia from Serbia via the border passing Tovarnik on Wednesday morning

Post 9/11, the West largely resorted to teaching a lesson to any nation that it considered was a breeding ground for the terrorists who attacked it and challenged its global dominance. So, first it was Afghanistan (in search of Osama), then Iraq (on the pretext of Sadaam’s ever elusive WMDs), then Libya (in the name of restoring Democracy) and now, its (mis)adventures in Syria, Yamen, Iraq and Pakistan show how ardently, the West employed its hot pursuit policy against its adversaries.

But 15 years on, despite using the Iron-fist approach, no concrete outcome looks within reach. Incidentally, all these nations are home to a large number of Muslims whose majority, having witnessed large-scale anarchy, now thinks of the West as just an equal partner in crime as their states’ internal dynamics.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, we witness that as a result of this very West’s continued intervention in the Middle East, in one way or the other, a sea of refugee, after finding no takers for themselves among their Arab Brethren, looks determined to head to any EU shores/borders.

Considering the large-scale influx, many doomsayers have started advocating the view that this mass scale migration is an Islamic Invasion of Europe. Citing and hyping Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilization theory, they believe, these refugees, in the coming future will threaten the continent’s prosperity, identity and Christian values.

In my view, on the contrary, another theorist Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory correctly sums up the state of these depressed migrants, for whom – safety and psychological well-being is the prime goal. They just, at the moment, wish for a safe life for themselves and their kids, and if, Europe today, extends a hand of hope and compassion towards them then they would certainly reciprocate that love, and so, would their future generations.

Pope Francis’s call to every European parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family is indeed very reassuring development. His concern for asylum seekers who are striving for what he called ‘life’s hope’ seem to be coming straight from the heart and would surely go a long way in bridging the differences in Muslim- Western relations.

And look at the spirit of the Europeans who besides money, clothes and food are even offering their apartments to refugees knocking on their doors. The sights of ‘Refugees Welcome’ placards show the mood of the people of these nations who are doing what their states were failing to do. Suddenly, it looks, public diplomacy – strictly a state’s ruling class’s affair, has been taken up by its people.

yarmuk refugee campBesides, I feel the idea of Europe is much bigger and stronger to be affected by the arrival of these refugees. The continent has historically been inhibited by millions of immigrants and refugees right from its colonial days.

This is why a commoner on any European street doesn’t buy the philosophy of people like Anders Breivik, right-wing, anti-multiculturalism extremist who killed 77 people in Norway. Likewise, the recent fall of the far-right British National Party shows that Europeans are increasingly rejecting the idea of hatred towards their very own neighbours.

Also, this mass migration could be turned into a win-win situation for both – the EU and the refugees. Because the continent presently has a low birth rate – 1.6 per woman – while at least 2.11 is needed to sustain both the population level. Therefore, these nations desperately need working hands to run their vast economies. The German think-tank Prognos forecasts the shortage of qualified workers will rise to 1.8 million in 2020 and to 3.9 million by 2040. Hence, many European nations could tap into this vast ocean of human capital for their mutual benefits.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European commission feels, Europe – the world’s wealthiest and most stable continent can accommodate these refugees whose numbers “equal to just 0.11% of Europe’s population”. This exposes the reality of the hatemonger’s baseless claim that refugees are going to fill every European neighbourhood. The fact is: a majority of these refugees have been so disillusioned with life, that back home, they had no choice but to choose any one of the so-called Islamists or Anti-Islamists or govt. army or Anti-govt. army or just any other regional war groups.

Further quite shocking is the height of the insanity in these regions where each group while killing the other group’s member utters the name of the same common God.

Hence, undoubtedly, for people coming out of such a miserable scenario, the EU’s helping hand could provide them a much needed reason and a purpose in life to enable them to lead a meaningful life, and that helping gesture will indeed send a very powerful rippling message to every Muslim around the world.

Mr Ahmad Shariq Khan
Mr Ahmad Shariq Khan

(Ahmad Shariq Khan is the Director, Communique Republic, a Delhi based, independent Media Thinklab and Editorial Initiative. He tweets at @CommRepublic, www.communiquerepublic.com)

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