The European Dream: Different European Initiatives

Different logos, and headlines from mentioned newspapers.

Different logos, and headlines from mentioned newspapers.

Denmark

“The less we offer, the less likely they are to come”

On August 26th, Denmark decided to reduce its public spending with regards to its refugees. According to the Danish newspaper, Politiken, some of the allowances reserved for refugees have been cut in half. For example, refugees bearing the single status and that have no children to care for, will receive 796 euros per month, as opposed to 1 454 euros. These figures may seem alarming for some, but it is important to note that they are relative to Denmark’s cost of living.

The aim of such a policy is to reduce the number of refugees coming into Denmark, however, it is impossible to tell what the effect of such a policy will have on asylum-seekers.

In 2014, Denmark welcomed 14 815 asylum-seekers thus setting a record for the small country in over twenty years. In contrast though, Sweden welcomed 81 301 refugees for the same year.

Since September 7th, Copenhagen has been publicising its new policies in relation to refugees in Arabic through Lebanese newspapers as a means to get the information across.

The United-Kingdom

Union Jack

Union Jack

The UK – like Denmark and Ireland- negotiated an ‘opt-out’ policy vis-à-vis to common E.U. efforts in relation to asylum-seekers, such as bypassing the quota suggested by Brussels. It is in fact a legal subtlety that doesn’t bear much strength in the face of the political realities.

The moral conscience of the people of the UK was awakened by the death of Aylan and put David Cameron under pressure – along with the E.U.’s disapproval and that of the opposition – to change his refugee crisis policies. On September 7th, Cameron announced that the UK would receive 10 000 Syrian refugees.

The Guardian specified that the Syrians refugees, the UK plans to welcome, come from camps from neighbouring countries, and that they will be victims of torture or sexual violence, the elderly or disabled persons.

The Daily Telegraph view Cameron’s decision as weak, and as a calamity, since his initial plan was to limit the UK’s refugee intake to about 1 000.

As for The Independent, Cameron’s “little gestures” are perceived as an insufficient response to this growing humanitarian crisis.

Spain

Towards the end of August, Ada Colau, Barcelona’s Mayor (politically close to Podemos), made a post on facebook that went viral:

“Even if this is an issue of state and European jurisdiction, from Barcelona we will do as much as we can to participate in a network of refuge-cities. We want cities built on human rights and life—cities we can be proud of” – Translated from Spanish

What the politician meant by “refuge-cities” is the creation of a network of towns that will be well equipped to welcome and host newly arrived refugees.

According to the Spanish newspaper, El Diaro, several Catalan city halls, such as Sabadell, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, and Valencia, have since been favourable to this initiative.

Ada Colau thus wrote to the Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, on September 5th asking him to help fund these self-proclaimed refuge-cities. Arguing, that last year the European Commission granted the Spanish Government, 521,7 million euros to help solve the question of migration and asylum-seeking in Spain. As a result, this makes Spain the European country to receive the most funds in this department, after Greece.

Furthermore, the Barcelonan Mayor has created a register made-up of families that want to help refugees with accommodation, or material donations. The email address, for this register already received 1 200 propositions within the first twenty-four hours.

Ada Colau

Ada Colau

Holland

For the Dutch, the solution to this Refugee Crisis is giving priority to the U.N.

2,4 billion euros were made available on August 10th, by the European Union to aid with this humanitarian crisis. The funds will be used to help with the welcoming of refugees, in countries such as Greece and Italy; and the tightening of border controls.

The Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsbad, argues that the more responsible initiative – especially from States that do not wish to receive refugees – would be to increase the financial aid allocated to the various U.N. programs, that try to help with the accommodation of refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries.

This stance underlines the fact, that many refugees are forced to leave the camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey due to a lack of resources in these camps. They are mainly lacking because the U.N’s efforts to help are insufficient. NRC goes on to explain, that only half of the necessary funds were gathered this year.

As the conditions in these camps become intolerable, many are sold the European Dream and start a journey that may be their last.

Support the UNHCR

Support the UNHCR

Source: L’hebdomadaire, Le Courrier International, issue n 1297

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