Pick your favorite refugee.
Poland will take the Christian ones, Norway prefers homosexuals, Hungary would rather not take any and Sweden takes all. European contest for the best refugee has started, there is so many you can just pick and choose. Especially from the group of 60 000 Syrian and Eritrean refugees waiting in Greece and Italy. During my two weeks of holidays in Poland I have found more articles in newspapers about Islam, Muslims and refugees than ever before in my life. Yes, catholic Kielbasaland is preparing for the worst- accepting the fact that we need to take in some new people into our precious “haters gonna hate” land. If you ask me, it’s only fair that Poland finally takes in few new faces, while being Europe’s production line for cheap labour abroad. This boring country needs some multiculturalism, and less hypocrisy, but Poland are you ready? And what is this all about? By 2017 Poland will accept 2000 refugees, as declared by our prime minister, I say: good luck Poles, cos by looking at the approval rates from 2014, seems like we are quite picky- only 27% of asylum application were successful in Poland (for me more shocking is the fact that 2700 people applied for asylum in Kielbasaland, while thousands are running voluntarily away each year).
On the other hand, I am not sure what is the whole fuzz about because in 2011 Poland volunteered to take 6 refugees when Malta faced migration flood. Eventually all 6 decided to go to Germany or Norway instead of Poland. Similar situation took place year later when Poland was taking part in EUREMA II and offered to take in 50 refugees, in the end only 5 refugees from Somalia and 1 from Eritrea arrived, later on their families joined them and almost all of them left to other countries. Even though an organisation that I did my internship for really tried to help them and moreover, founder from this organisation is from Somalia and does amazing job. They left even though they underwent intensive course about Polish culture while still in Malta and obtained Polish language course. Maybe Poland should panic less and chill, we are not too attractive destination for refugees.
Statistics of Application approval rate for EU in 2014 (average for EU was 45%).
Syrian asylum applications, Poland took 100 (same as Czech Republic, FYI: Poland is almost 4 times the size of Czech… I bet you can barely see the small dot near Germany.
Emergency meeting in Brussels 23.04.2015 and EU summit 25-27.06.2015
In the end of April an emergency EU summit took place to discuss migrant situation, it was chaired by Donald Tusk (he was Polish prime minister until last year, now he is the head of European Council). Summit mainly resulted in strengthening naval border-surveillance programmes: Operations Triton and Poseidon. Many raise voices about the “migrant business” and how traffickers are using peoples struggle for life to earn, EU considers deploying special gunship helicopters to target trafficking vessels before they are being used (yes, David Cameron was behind this idea, but I am supporting Cameron on this one). Seems like Cameron was on fire and quite creatively suggested (fine, also insisted) to call the project of refugee resettlement a “voluntary” one, this if where it all goes downhill as countries became picky.
The “voluntary” idea was discussed again just last month on the EU’s Migration Summit. Firstly, there was an idea of quota system that would deal with the resettlement of Mediterranean refugees. This whole meeting resulted in UK opting out (not in Schengen passport zone, so Keep Calm and fuck the EU Asylum Policy), Bulgaria and Hungary being excused and Poland voluntarily taking 2000 refugees within the next 2 years, the poor Polish Prime Minister, Mrs Ewa will probably choke while defending this during the upcoming parliament elections, but stay strong Ewka!
Whole summit went downhill over the quota system, no problems solved, just new ideas of focusing on rather sending refugees back and stopping the smuggling. Overall, Europe cannot take every single sad-faced refugee because this is not the solution. The best option is to rather ask why there are so many people fleeing their countries and try to fix the internal problem, but yes here comes the tricky part: after all it is an internal problem and we all know what is wrong with Syria, but of course lovely UN members like Russia and China will veto every single attempt to help these countries. And it stays itself: every state for themselves. Another problem is to tackle the trafficking business. There is hope as less people dies while crossing the sea, Amnesty International states that a year ago every 1 in 16 of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea died, this year only one person per 427 dies and that is a result of EU’s intensive naval surveillance programme.
To summarise, I quote Tusk, although he sounds harsh:
“First and foremost, we need to contain illegal migration and this should be our priority. All those who are not legitimate asylum seekers will have no guarantee that they will stay in Europe,’’
Is it really possible that two-thirds of migrants end up in just five EU countries, according to Angela Merkel? So why not Poland and Hungary? Quite often the answer is simple, immigrants prefer the rich countries with robust benefits system. Poland is not their favourite, while Hungary is just tired of the problem.
Poland declared to take 2000 Syrian refugees: half of them from camps in France and another half from camps in Greece. Aside of that Poland will welcome 200 Christian Syrians who will come directly from Syria. The Syrian refugees will have to wait in the refugee camps until their asylum applications will be processed. For each refugee Poland will get 6000 euros from EU, this should cover some basic costs and to help refugees to assimilate with Polish society.
Guess that’s good effort enough for Poland, although we are a big country and could have taken more people in need, small Slovakia will take 500 refugees. I think that the international arena does not recognise how xenophobic Poland is and how big resentment Polish society has towards accepting immigrants, especially Muslim ones. That is something I disagree with, but I would rather not ignore it. Just recently the conservative pro-catholic party got back to power as their candidate for president won the elections, this will not help with opening Poland to immigration, unless they are Christian, on one side I guess that is somehow smart as it will ease the assimilation (probably of Polish people to the refugees, rather than other way).However, it is not only the Christian refuges that are in need and are fleeing war zones, come on Poland, 3 partitions, 2 world wars, decades of occupation- we are experts on fleeing wars and oppression, how about a bit more compassion and solidarity, huh? On the other side, Poland is not the only one who decided to adjust its immigration policy and select immigrants based on religious background. Recently Denmark faced a public debate about their own democracy when Inger Støjberg politician from anti-immigration party suggested to select immigrants and favour Christian ones. Igner Støjberg has also published on her website information that was found on trafficking website: comparison of benefits and social help for refugees around European countries. But back to facts, at least we are not building walls… like Hungary.
I knew sooner or later one of the European leaders will break down and release their prejudiced side. And so it was, thankfully not the Poles, but Viktor Orban , president of Hungary (the same guy who fantasises about army protecting Europe from immigrants). Just last week he blurred out the “Europe for Europeans” BS.
Ok fine, Orban has some „reasons” as firstly Hungary was flooded by immigrants from Kosovo and then Syria, all together 90k migrants crossed Hungary just this year. Hungary is currently undergoing huge campaign with one of my absolute “favourite” slogans, which pretty much goes like: U CAME TO MY COUNTREY AND TOOK MY JOB. I love this one, every anti-immigrant, conservative and populist party must use this one at least once in their campaigns, it buys votes like Russian oil. Let’s not blame Hungary too much, to be honest Orban works the nation really hard with his “questionnaires” like the one he send out with title “immigration and terrorism” (not suggestive at all) and let’s not forget how vocal he was this year about bringing back the death penalty to Hungary. This way the Hungarian president explains why his country is building 175km long and 4m high fence with barbed wire on the border (Orban promised that the fence will be done by October). Hurry up Orban, your nation is counting on you, sorry immigrants, Hungary is a big no-no (probably the high statistics about xenophobia in Hungary is quite discouraging- 46%). TBH, I don’t like him anyways, too pro-Russian.
4 years ago as a volunteer for Save the Children in Norway I had the opportunity to attend seminar in Oslo regarding asylum seekers and migrants. I heard many stories about illegal immigrants whose application was refused and they chose to live in that country (other choices: removal, deportation). This results in living in hope you will never get sick because you will not be eligible for any help, you cannot work legally, you cannot access education, you are a shadow of citizen. I remember how shocked these stories were to me and at that time I only knew the “lucky” legal refugees, who were receiving support from Norwegian government (although 5000 of mottak habitants probably do not feel too lucky, waiting to start their lives…). I could not believe. I believe now when I meet destitute and refused asylum seekers in UK, who have no rights once their application is denied. Facing voluntary deportation or just, deportation. Maybe years of re-appealing, their lives being wasted on waiting. Somehow, I have much less empathy for economic migrants like thousands of Polish workers-to-be, but that is another story.
Quite painful to watch, Angela Merkel “cheering up” Palestinian girl who cried
Hell, I would cry if I was in that poor girl’s situation.
When Poland fails me I look up to my dream-country: Norway. Once again, Norway did not disappoint me, but came up with a “brilliant” idea. Norway will take mainly LGBT refugees ok, fine, it’s not a fact yet but a proposition from one of Norway’s right wing politicians still, I must admit, quite creative. Norway decided to take 8000 refugees in the next 3 years.
Vegard Rødseth Tokheim from party Høyre (the biggest party in Norway, currently in charge) explains why LGBT refugees would be the best fit for Norway:
– Easier to integrate and will have higher education and real wish to live and work in Europe
– No extra pressure for kindergartens and schools
– No family reconnections
– No marriage between cousins
– No second-generation refugees (who according to SSB – Statistics Norway, are less likely to integrate)
This is probably the first time ever a right-wing party was so enthusiastic about homosexuality, they learned how to look on it the other way- moreover, use it on their advantage: LGBT refugees will not cost that much because they will not need to be united with their families, nor will they come with their own kids so no pressure for schools and they will definitely want to integrate since they were persecuted in their origin countries. Well played Norway, we will see if UNHCR will fall for it.
On the other side of border, Swedish friends of Norway do not pick around and just last year took over 30 000 refugees, and will welcome 10 000 more. Sweden goes all the way in when it comes to refugees, so much that a business starts evolving around because government is looking for places to settle the newcomers in. Recently 10 Swedish inhabitants of apartments in a neighbourhood got notice informing that their tenancies will be terminated as a new owner bought the place for different purposes- to create mottak – Scandinavian name for place where asylum seekers await their applications to be reviewed before being resettled. Seems like that is just the opposite to Norway…
Meanwhile, smuggling and trafficking became a business on its own with traffickers editing handbooks on social welfare and benefits in European countries. Still, this should not be used as an excuse to refuse helping others. Last year 600,000 people sought asylum in the EU, predictions for this year are much higher. I hope that Poland will be ready to welcome people in need because we are known for our hospitality, unfortunately I also know Poland from its xenophobic tendencies and racism and just recently news were screaming about racist youtube programme broadcasted by nationalistic youth group in Poland where shallow sense of humour and crude comments targeted immigrants. Maybe by 2017 it will get better? Good luck, I’m not coming back to Poland anyways so you are free to give my space away.
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Information used in this post is based on articles: (hyperlinks are in the text).
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IRIN: Playing the EU asylum lottery (accessed: 28.07.2015)
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Vil hente 8.000 homofile flyktninger (hegnar.no) (accessed: 23.07.2015)
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