Migrant crisis: Emmanuel Argo's explanations

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“Welcoming new populations: an opportunity for Europe or the risk of a break-up?” This is the question posed by Emmanuel Argo, International Civil Society Advisor, Author of “Hands down on the money of the poor”. In this writing, it emerges the advantages of the massive immigration of which Europe has been paying the price in recent weeks if we know that certain parts of the old continent today have an aging population. Read!


The question of welcoming refugees and migrants in Europe is a new test after that of the financial crisis. It could either unite the peoples or shatter this beautiful historical construction whose significance, in terms of progress of civilization, is considerable, even if it remains to be perfected.

Thus, it is for this reason that we Europeans, relying on our values, must show ourselves to be complementary despite our differences and fraternal with these populations victims of war or misery, but not just anyone. how nor in a disorganized way.

With the aging of the European population, migration can play in favor of the economic development of certain countries. However, far from competing with each other, the question of reception conditions now arises, since the risk of massive rejection by the indigenous populations can jeopardize social peace.

Furthermore, should we continue to take advantage of these migrants at the risk of seeing the political and economic instability of emerging or developing countries drag on?

For these reasons, the reception of new populations, whether made up of refugees or economic migrants, must be organised, planned and even programmed and take into account the local specificities of each European country. It is about the balance of this continent, old by its history, but young by this wonderful utopia whose origin is that of a lasting peace between peoples who have killed each other for centuries.

I-Where are we?

There are several “Europes”:

  • that of the south, of the Mediterranean, at the gates of Africa and the Middle East, that which the Greeks and later the Romans built by setting up a circulation of people, and with them that of their thoughts and that of their property, for the greater benefit of the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean.
  • that of the North, long overshadowed by the previous one, solid, prudent and economical.
  • that of the East, battered by the “cold war” and a recent civil war. This Europe, driven by Germany for its greatest benefit, is being built little by little.

Historically, a past of conquest, domination and slavery has made Europe a concentrate of countries whose prosperity has been achieved thanks to a colonial policy without qualms. Not to mention shame, there remains in European memory a certain unease about this.

In economic terms, despite the implementation of the single currency, from a political, cultural and social point of view, everything remains to be done: a government, genuine universal suffrage that respects the right to vote, tax harmonization ... Moreover, Europe is slowly leaving the industrial era that began at the end of the 18th century to enter a new economy, one of the most visible consequences of which is the disappearance of thousands of jobs. This mutation that does away with human labor to optimize profits will lead to considerable social upheavals. If mutations are logical phases in the evolution of any civilization, on the other hand, the speed with which this takes place is unprecedented. How will the many left behind by this transformation react?

Finally, climate change remains an element that should not be overlooked. The warming of the oceans will lead to climate change on the coastal fringes but also inland, in areas where excess rainfall will lead to erosion and soil depletion. Internal population migration from one region to another is to be expected.

II-Is there a real difference between refugees and economic migrants?

1-Refugee status: what does international law say?

According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 “Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees”3, countries must grant asylum to refugees and cannot force a refugee to return to their country of origin . However, many countries do not take this treaty into account: as of December 1, 2006, 147 countries are signatories, including the members of the G8 and China.

Generally refugees are people fleeing war (such as those from Iraq and Iran as well as those from the former Yugoslavia) who have experienced various wars and revolutions as is currently the case for Syria and Libya.

How to deal in particular with the health emergency of refugees from the Middle East? It has two origins: a war situation and climatic upheaval. In both cases, entire populations flee death, abandoning everything in place to save their lives.

Two different approaches: in the event of war, refugees can return home after the conflict. It is therefore a temporary reception.

In the event of major climatic upheaval, populations will never return there.

However, to currently question the reception of refugees from the Middle East is already to pose a problem that will be repeated in the future due to the consequences of global warming.

A postulate remains indisputable: it must be reaffirmed that the life of a man 3 is sacred without distinction of color, culture, social level or religion.

Evolution of the “economic migrant”: Unlike political or climatic refugees, economic migrants make changes of regions or territories by culture or tradition, family necessity or opportunity.

• South-north migrations: these migrations have long been encouraged by former colonizing states, which have signed agreements with their former colonies. These movements have therefore always been connoted by an increase in wealth on both sides, both at the family level and at the level of a country. They are part of a period, generally that of a professional life because the migrant, if he has been a good manager, has prepared his return to live a quiet retirement in his country of origin.

The family reunion initiated in France in the 1970s by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing led to a change in behavior. The men settled permanently with their families and their children enrolled in the same schools as the natives. These have mostly assimilated into the local population.

Unfortunately, the segregationist policies of the cities have relegated them to neighborhoods on the urban periphery. This is the origin of the community conflicts of the 2nd and 3rd generations which currently provoke xenophobic movements.

• East-West migrations:

With the collapse of the former USSR in the 1990s, Eastern European countries joined the European Community, bringing a new low-cost workforce, mostly Christian and white and therefore less visible and easier assimilated in the French collective consciousness.

As they come from countries on the same European continent, these populations have initiated a new generation of more mobile economic migrants, going where they are needed and not intending to settle permanently in the country of origin. 'homepage. It is a flexible, cheap and hardworking workforce, sought after by companies and which does not pose the same problems as migrants from the former colonies. Their transfers and remittances go mainly to preparing for their final return to the country. Their travels allowed their country to progress rapidly. Poland is the most glaring example, as its former President Lech Walesa pointed out in a preface to the author of this article's book, Hands Off the Money of the Poor.

Currently, we can see the same mobility among populations from Africa or Asia, especially since transport and communications are more numerous and easier. The Internet has abolished borders. Remitt@nces (neologism, created by the author of this article, which translates this reality) are the economic translation of these money flows. These migrants, when they manage to come out of hiding, stay as long as there is work and go elsewhere if there is better. They are “volatile”. The question of integration or assimilation as in the 1960s, 70s and 80s therefore no longer arises for the host countries, but the establishment of infrastructures that allow them to live with dignity, the time of their employment. These migrants thus become mostly ‘seasonal’. For this new generation of migrants, the world is one country.

Thus, the management of refugees and that of economic migrants therefore come together on one point: in both cases, the host countries must agree to set up places and structures to accommodate temporarily or on a medium basis. term these populations which, for the most part, are not called upon to stay. This undermines the xenophobia and racism of certain political groups who exploit the problem for electoral purposes. This is where Germany has a head start on the French.

II-Faced with the flood of refugees, what is the current response?

For the same situation there are three different political approaches: - Germany and Austria are pragmatic and see in welcoming refugees an economic and social windfall effect which may in fact bring them a real immediate advantage but in the long term a risk of cultural breakdown and a loss of economic competitiveness in the event of a massive return of refugees to their country. Unless he has the first place to participate in the reconstruction.

France, Jacobin, a one and indivisible nation which has worked in this direction since the Renaissance, thinks first, feels its way, because a land of welcome by tradition and culture, it does not envisage a temporary reception of these refugees , but a lasting welcome with the key to a desire for integration or assimilation; which supposes for the refugee to make a clean sweep of his past. Hence a misunderstanding between those who do not necessarily plan to settle permanently and the indigenous populations who fear being invaded. countries of the former USSR. Barely emancipated countries and recent members of the European Union, they do not yet have solid enough social bases to consider welcoming refugees, especially since Christians and Muslims went to war in the 90s.< /p>

III - A programmed and planned welcome:

- Refugee profiles and social and cultural issues to consider:

1st case: Refugees from the Middle East: In mortal danger, they are fleeing the war. For the most part, they are people of a good intellectual level who speak at least English, know their refugee law and are part of the middle class. They are first in demand of a pacified territory to protect themselves but remain owners of the goods which they had to abandon. This supposes that they intend to return to the country and take their part in the future reconstruction. So they don't come to invade us but seek protection above all else. Moreover, if they seem aggressive or assertive, it is because they have suffered from fear for years. Their state of mind is totally different from ours and we must already consider a specific psychological approach and support for these traumatized populations. Their words and their ideas are closely intertwined with fear, to which is added a different religion and culture. This is why they are different from us and it is necessary to reflect on the establishment of good training and communication conditions so that these populations and ours can understand each other. But good intentions and good feelings will not do everything. Because, even if the conditions of their exile are dramatic and even if international law protects them, it is right to remind refugees that they must above all accept and respect the founding principles and values ​​of the host countries.

2nd case: Economic migrants: it is poverty that makes them flee. Supported by their family who sees in them their “life insurance”, they go where they are sure to earn money. Putting their lives at risk, they are ready to make sacrifices and accept difficult living conditions and material constraints. They make a deal with their life and are particularly adaptable to contingencies. Unlike the previous ones, many of them are clandestine.

-Proposals: Should international law prevail over the law of host countries? In other words, does a country have the right to oppose the reception of refugees on the grounds that the indigenous populations are the only ones who can dispose of their territory? At the same time, must the fundamental rules and the inhabitants of this country submit to the demands of those who are welcomed? The proposals that follow take these questions into account.

Common European Framework of Reference for Refugees.

1-Implementation of a ten-year European FRAMEWORK PLAN for protection and evacuation through humanitarian corridors and bridges, for the reception (transitory or permanent) of refugees who are victims of wars and other conflicts policies.

This action must be studied and prepared by the European authorities and the United Nations. The creation of centers under the aegis of the United Nations, extended by protected humanitarian corridors, would prevent refugees from being taken in hand by smugglers and the permanent endangerment of their lives.

2- At the same time, priority round tables bringing together the belligerents of countries at war or in conflict: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran... Such initiatives would facilitate the establishment of multi-party governments of reconciliation, peace and national unity.

- We must associate Russia as a major influential partner in this region of the world. Reintegrating it into the G8 Summit of Heads of State and Government would help to defuse the situation. Especially since France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the President of the European Commission are primarily concerned by the crisis. The European Union is represented at the Summit by the President of the Commission and by the President of the European Council.

Some states are considering going through the solution of military intervention on the ground. Shouldn't we first take into account what actually happened in Libya as well as in Iraq after such initiatives? - As a last resort, should we not associate with the forces of international armed forces, able-bodied refugees from Syria or Iraq, in this case, and under certain conditions, as substitute members wishing to liberate their homeland in order to to restore lasting peace? If a military intervention is decided by member countries of the European Union to fight those who cause the exodus of refugees, it is also necessary to remind the refugees that during the 2nd World War, European civilians joined England to fight Nazism with the allies. That French people, including distant overseas departments and territories, joined General de Gaulle in liberating their own country, France. Tranquility and peace are sometimes at this price.

3-Establish an inventory of European geographical areas, including the outermost regions, capable of urgently hosting these populations. In addition, create accommodation structures (villages, neighborhoods, etc.) administered by local officials. The accommodations are equipped with sanitary materials, technical installations and communication logistics; human resource allocations (health, training and stewardship personnel) manage the daily operation of these entities where the stay is temporary while waiting for a definitive reception in the same or another region.

Refugees are currently making a detour to enter French Guiana via Brazil. To this end, could we not consider the development of a reception site in the French department of Guyana, as was the case for the installation of the Hmongs (village groups originating from Laos who fled communism in 1975). Guyana, which is sparsely populated, has a territory that is about 1/9 of the area of ​​French national territory. In addition, Kourou hosts a world space center, a symbol that makes this region a land of advanced technology that erases its past as a land of relegation.

Recognition by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of their status as political refugees allows them to be welcomed in various Western countries. The United States will welcome some 100,000 and France 10,000. Villages are being prepared for them in Guyana, created from scratch with the idea of ​​transferring groups of families there who can return to their previous living conditions. These arrangements are financially supported by the European Union.

4-The financing of these plans and programs:

Redefine development aid, which must be used as a coercive lever depriving the leaders of countries at war or in conflict of resources. It must be distributed by further involving Civil Society. - Freezing of the assets of public and economic decision-makers in countries that do not ensure the protection of their populations - Deduction of taxes on commissions collected by money transfer companies such as Western Union, Money Gram, etc. to constitute, among other things, an international aid fund intended to facilitate the installation of migrants in their country of origin. origin. The amount of money transfers represents more than 6 times development aid

5-Support reception from a legal point of view:

Implementation of a European charter adopted by the European Parliament defining the principles of reception; the rights and duties will be specified by each country in respect of their differences. - The policy of good feelings is a source of misunderstandings. Refugees and migrants are aware that together, because of their growing numbers, they constitute a strength. We must take this into account in the management of these populations battered by civil wars. They must know that what our country offers in priority is above all peace. - We will have to practice speaking the truth; as a host country, we must also act with realism and pragmatism and say that they will not be able to continue to live here with the same standing that they left in the country. The host country is not an El Dorado. - It is necessary to distinguish between those who have only come to protect themselves, those who intend to return home after the conflicts and those who want to settle permanently in Europe. The management of these groups is not the same. - Refugees must at the start of their exile know the duties they have vis-à-vis those who welcome them. Hence the establishment of consular information centers providing them with information in French and systematically translated into the languages ​​of their country, or even regions. Establishment of safe-conducts with issuance of temporary identity papers. - In order to facilitate dialogue with the host countries, the refugees should nominate or elect representatives to constitute a Representative Council speaking at least one of the official languages ​​of Europe. This is to defuse any attempt at conflict with the guarantors of maintaining public order in the host countries. We must be clear: we offer them peace but on our terms to avoid a threat to social peace.

Emmanuel Argo

International Civil Society Advisor

Author of "Hands Off the Money of the Poor"