By Priyanka Vaidyanathan*
The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political partnership of 28 countries between the European nations. The EU was to promote economic relation. Subsequently, the scope expanded which included human rights, equality. One of the core values of the EU is protection of human rights and dignity. It can be perceived that the EU is an institution which upholds the sanctity of human rights.
The EU’s reaction to refugees is witnessed every day, especially those who are displaced from Syria. They are seeking refuge in the EU. And the situation is unruly as they are outnumbered.
Genesis of the crisis
Syrians chose Europe, as it’s viewed as a place of peace and wealth as compared to torture, and despair. A small overview of the situation in Syria would break down the predicament of those who flee.
Syria has a democratically elected regime headed by Bashar al Assad. This regime is being tried to annihilate, as he could not fulfil the political and economical promises made to the civilians. The civil unrest arose and militias were formed. Here marked the mutual initiation of violent actions by the government and the civilians. People were subjected to mass killings, rape, and torture leading to crime against humanity. The government also resorted to the use of chemical weapons. ISIS took advantage of the issue and added fuel to the fire. Syria stood next to ‘hell’.
Assistance of EU
When such was the saddened condition of people, it was then they abandoned their homeland and tried to seek asylum in safer countries. They resorted to entering a European country which seemed safe, and started the dubious journey.
It’s true that the EU is facing a lot of issues by the influx of the refugees and is being criticized for not accepting them freely and providing them a humane treatment. But the situation is overlooked by many and is being misunderstood. It’s well appreciated that among all the nations, EU has let its door open for the refugee. The influx is in such humungous number that the EU is being in a helpless condition to accommodate all of them. It’s obvious that no state would have predicted that such situation would arise in the future so as to keep the refugee camps ready.
Further, EU follows the Dublin convention, 1997. The principle is that asylum is to be a one – step process and that claim can be made in only one EU state. Germany agreed to suspend application of the Dublin Regulation for refugees, who will now be permitted to apply for asylum directly in Germany.
It is agreed that few countries of the EU have resorted to mechanisms to stop the inflow of refugees, like; Hungary has erected a razor-wire fence along its border in an effort to prevent refugees from crossing over land. Austria introduced checks along its internal border to search for refugees being smuggled. Croatia is forcing Hungary to take refugees from their land. This is because they have accepted too many refugees and now are unable to provide them the basic humanitarian aid. It is right on the part of the EU to do so because unless they are in a position to take care of the current refugees, they will not be able to accept a few million more. A state’s duty is not over, once it accepts the refugee in its country. It is obligated to provide humanitarian and aid. Even if they accept and try to accommodate the additional refugee’s, countries would be criticized for not providing decent shelter to those refugees. In any case either they accept or not, would be prone to criticism. Regardless, the EU has stood for refugees.
The gulf countries and their negligence.
Apart from the EU no other state is ready to take in refugees. Primarily, the Gulf countries, which possess incredible resources, also pursuant to the fact that they are dominated by Islamic population, same as the people who are displaced, offered no help in providing asylum. There has been a lot of Islamic unity drive around the Middle East, but are not ready to extend help to such refugees who are of same religion. Countries like UAE and Kuwait defend themselves by saying that they have provided sufficient monetary help to UN to deal with this chaotic condition, but that is not what the situation demands. Refugees are in need of ‘home’ and not money. The poorer countries like Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan are accepting refugees, whereas, the richer countries like Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait are washing of their hands.
It’s time that all nations put hands together to help refugee to secure a safe home and not heavily burden EU nations. The concept of burden – sharing has to be adopted to deal with the situation in a better way. The concept of burden – sharing is based on the premise that collective action might lead to better and more enduring resolution of crises than unilateral measures by individual nation states, this is most viable option for the countries and United Nation has to take an active step in implementing this, rather than criticizing EU for its hypothetical failure.
*Priyanka Vaidyanath is a student of Year Four, at the School of Law, Christ University, Bangalore, India.