Need For Global Migrant Policy – OpEd


Recently, it has been reported that Algeria abandoned more than 13,000 migrants in the Sahara Desert over the past thirteen months, including pregnant women and children, expelling them from the country without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gun point, under blistering sun. Obviously, number of such migrants should have lost their lives, unable to stand the agony. This act of the Algerian government has sent shock waves around the world.

It is reported that Algeria’s mass expulsion picked up since October, 2017, as European Union applied pressure on North African countries to prevent the migrants from Africa going north to Europe via Mediterranean Sea or the barrier fences with Spain.

Expulsion of migrants from Algeria is not an isolated case. Whether forced by the government as happened in Algeria or due to ethnic conflicts, political unrest and civil war, on many occasions in different regions, people have been forced to run away from their country and enter another region as illegal migrants.

A few years back, a few West European countries including Germany welcomed the migrants from the conflict zones, treating the entry of migrants as humanitarian cause. When Germany and a few European countries showed the green flag to migrants, thousands of migrants got encouraged and started entering the prosperous West European countries, running away from poverty conditions they faced elsewhere.

Now, several countries in European Union are regretting that they allowed so many migrants to enter Europe, which is disturbing the demography in the region and creating seeds of conflict. When so many migrants would come and it would not be possible to screen them to identify the genuine migrants, as it happened in West Europe recently, the undesirable elements and even smugglers and terrorists could also enter. These migrants would never go back and would mix with the mainstream population in course of time.

Europe is already paying the price for the entry of so many migrants, substantial number of whom are Muslims and who may multiply in number creating serious issues in the long run. There is already considerable concern in Europe about this impending crisis due to massive influx of migrants.

There are so many other migrant issues across the world like the Rohingya crisis when illegal migrants entered Bangladesh from Myanmar in huge number. Of course, no one can forget the incident several decades back when thousands of Tibetans had to run away from Tibet and enter India as migrants , when Chinese army entered Tibet and occupied the land forcibly. The recent efforts of U S President to curtail the entry of migrant population into USA remains as a much discussed subject.

It is high time that a global policy has to be evolved to find an approach to tackle this recurring migrant crisis in different countries.

While section of opinion may view the migrant issue as essentially humanitarian problem which need to be tackled with compassion, there is alternate view that the illegal migrants are causing huge socio economic issues and could even be a source of conflict and therefore, must be stopped at any cost.

In the past, the United Nations has been successful in paving way for finding solutions to several issues that affected most countries or all countries. To tackle the environmental issue, the Montreal Protocol has been successfully implemented by several countries jointly agreeing to implement the protocol. In the same way, the Paris Climate Conference resulted in firm conclusions to avoid global warming. WTO regulations have also been implemented by a process of consensus between various countries.

Such positive examples only give hope that it would be possible for all countries to discuss the migrant issue and evolve a methodology and policy approach to tackle this problem. United Nations should take the lead, just as it did in the case of Paris Climate Conference, to find a solution to this vexed migrant crisis repeatedly confronting the world.

No doubt, the United Nations has been helping the refugees and trying to rehabilitate them but it could do nothing to prevent the migrant issue arising. It is high time that the UN take more proactive measures to ensure that a globally acceptable policy would be worked out to sort out the matter.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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