“I don’t even know what the ‘criteria’ is! But if they’re trying to deport someone who is ready to die rather than return to their country, something is very wrong there,”
So commented a concerned citizen: interviewed while demonstrating support for a refugee who is on hunger strike for asylum.
That woman’s instinctive compassion could not assess the situation more clearly; or more perfectly reflect international criteria on asylum.
In fact, the UNHCR Handbook ** expressly states, that anyone is entitled to asylum, who feels that a return to their own country is “intolerable”, due to human rights abuse experienced there, witnessed there, and/or reasonably feared there.
The UNHCR Handbook is accepted by courts throughout the world, as the standard legal reference on criteria for judging claims to asylum.
The problem is that governments routinely disregard UNHCR criteria, with impunity. No one does anything about it. In fact, there exists practically no entity which is both able & willing to oblige states to treat refugees lawfully.
In practice, refugee criteria is applied wherever governments choose to apply it, and disregarded whenever they choose. Certainly destitute refugees are in no position to secure their rights, when refused by powerful institutions.
EU “stakeholders” frequently have a “stake” in the very violence which is forcing millions from their homes, all around the world. EU states who provided weapons which have been bombarding Syria and Yemen are a matter of public record. More clandestine involvement by Western powers / multi-national profiteers, in death squad regimes & secret wars, are only a little harder to document.
EU institutions’ response to the victims thereof is predictable enough, under these circumstances. Human rights abuse directly attributable to powerful EU players &/or their allies are systematically denied. Only their adversaries’ victims can expect a sympathetic hearing.
Refugee crises, as your woman-on-the-street so cogently observed, is not rocket science. Anymore than is the question hanging in the air of “How many can we accept?”
The problem is not borders, it is not sovereignty, and it is not “do we let in everyone, & if not how do we choose?”
Every country has a right to its borders; while at the same time those borders are not intended to keep out those who will die if locked outside. Nor can any single country accommodate all of the 65 million whom governments have allowed to be driven from their homes. Nor is the solution for all people being driven from their homes to leave their country.
The solution is to attack the causes, not the victims.
Sending people back to the death squads is not the solution.
The solution is to enable people everywhere to live in their own home countries, free from fear of having to run for their lives. Wherever they live, whatever their gender, race, religion, socio-economic status; and however justly they pursue their entitlements under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: to shelter, food, education, and livelihood.
Above all, we would understand the picture much better, if the voices of refugees themselves were more freely heard by us all. That is, if our information on the topic were dominated neither by government-funded charities, interested profiteers; nor by the mass media industry which such profiteers largely control.
** United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook on criteria under the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees