Would you like to be in the same boat?

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According to an article by Patrick Kingsley in Guardian Newspaper, we are facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the World War two.

224,000 migrants and refugees have come to Europe in 2015. For those of you who can’t visualize the number, it is equivalent of four Arsenal Emirates stadium in London.

What could be happening in your home country that you could potentially risk your life to go somewhere else?

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, could explain it quite clearly with his famous theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

If you don’t have your basic needs met such as physiological and safety, then you can risk anything. And it is very clear that very basic human needs of these people are not being met.

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These migrants are mainly coming from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Darfur, Nigeria and Mali and all these places are fighting with poverty, civil unrest or war.

What has Europe done for these people? Well – Current European leaders have failed in many ways in the recent years and migrant crisis is just another episode of their failure in the big European project.

To answer my own question; They haven’t really done much. Instead they avoided the problem and as the problem knocks their own doors now, they are murmuring…

When you crunch the numbers, Germany, Sweden and Italy have accepted highest numbers of migrants up until now.

….But I do not think that granting these people asylum, is the real problem solver.

Europe is the birthplace of renaissance and it brought humanism, art, development in science and policy, reform in education and self-awareness.

I would expect the same Europe to bring intelligence, know-how, education, sanitation, water, healthcare and other basic human needs to these countries.

Instead politicians are proudly talking of extra fencing, dogs and police officers. Unfortunately these measures were not really helpful and I’m afraid that they will not be helpful going forward as well.

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By the way, EU has just approved EUR 2.4 billion aid for the current migrant crisis this week. Another short term symptom solving approach rather than digging deep into the problem.

The message, these people are conveying to us, is crystal clear…

“Instead of living in my home country, I rather prefer to be dead or live somewhere else!”

To our beloved politicians: If you really want to keep these people away from your own countries, you shall bring basic human needs to them to get them developed!

You should channel the money to your own NGOs instead of pumping money to their corrupted government. Some European NGOs are already on the ground for some time and they know the countries and their specific problems much better than anyone else.

Charities such as Wateraid and Oxfam can play more significant role than the governments.

Although I focus on European migrant crisis in this post, the problem does not only exist in Europe.

Migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh are trying to reach to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia whilst migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are trying to reach USA.

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According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the following countries are hosting the most refugees from Syria.

Turkey     – 1,805,255
Lebanon – 1,172,753
Jordan     –    629,128

In other words; Turkey is hosting 30, Lebanon 20 and Jordan 10 Arsenal stadiums size of people in their own country. 

Imagine the congestion on the way to Finsbury Park station after an Arsenal game and multiply it by 30 to figure out the refugee population in Turkey.

Of course it is not easy when Europe is going through economically hard times but we still could help these people in a better way!

Empathy is a valuable virtue!

Our behaviours will set the scene for a future world war or sustainable peace just like it did in the beginning of 1900s.

Finally, I will encourage you to listen Gary Haugen’s TED talk to understand a bit more what could be the motivations behind migrants journey to Europe.

Next week, I will be focusing on China and its economic policies. Keep following and please register your email to my subscription list!

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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4 thoughts on “Would you like to be in the same boat?”

  1. very nice article Sukru. The West is always asking for trade barriers to be lowered. They want goods to move freely. Isn’t it therefore hypocritical that when it comes to movement of people, they want barriers raised.
    Best, shrikant

  2. First off, I think your reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is appropriate and well placed – his pyramid and the different stages of human development is often left out or simply forgotten in many conversations regarding politics today. It’s a worthy foundation to start a debate on a topic like refugees and migration, who’s needs as you point out are unfortunately being ignored or disregarded in many places around the globe.
    Couple of questions/points to make:
    -What moral, ethical and of course legal imperative do you feel European countries and their people have to solve this migrant crisis by allowing more refugees into their borders and caring for them? In an idealistic sense one can understand why they should be empathetic towards those much less fortunate than them and we should of course be constantly fostering and creating cultures that encourage empathy through education. But the people of Europe cannot be held responsible or to blame for the poverty, violence and deep-rooted unrest in places like Syria, Iraq, Pakistan etc. As you point out, similar issues are occurring in the US with immigrants from Central & South America and in Indonesia/Malaysia etc from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Land, resources and capital are limited so what is the macro-level, societal incentive to help such migrants other than out of the goodness of ones heart and the possibility of the somewhat unlikely worse-case scenario that the current state of migrant affairs will lead to a WW III and a massive outpouring of violence on a large scale? I’m merely trying to play devil’s advocate as to why many European countries and their citizens have not done more to avert this crisis already.
    -I strongly agree with your sentiment that there is often very little that people can do through the use of their often corrupt, slow moving governments and should instead rely upon private organizations, NGO’s and charities to solve these issues. This allows people, on an individual basis to have a tangible impact on easing migrant issues either by improving the situations in the country of origin or by fostering more open immigration policies. I think NGO’s and charities have the potential (although are in no way perfect themselves) to create far more good than the red-tape bureaucracies many governments have become. Individuals donating and becoming involved with private organizations also side steps the issue of coercion and forcing citizens of European countries for example to use their hard-earned taxes to help migrants that perhaps some people don’t have a desire to help (whether that is right or wrong is another debate). Giving people that individual choice as to how to respond to this immigration crisis is important and only NGO’s and charities can truly offer that choice at this point.

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