Refugee boy's drowning raises hopes for political solutions

Refugee boy's drowning raises hopes for political solutions
By Adrian Lancashire
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The European Union is debating how to reconcile its traditional values with masses of individuals begging for refuge. Meanwhile, criminal networks


The European Union is debating how to reconcile its traditional values with masses of individuals begging for refuge.

Meanwhile, criminal networks take the refugees’ money to ferry them approximately to destination.

Existing systems of regulating immigration have largely become irrelevant, and boats keep sinking.

There have been thousands of deaths, and desperate travellers endure heat, cold, sickness and cruelty.

Travel over land brings its own kind of suffering. Anyone who has ever trekked off-road knows the feeling. Carrying extra weight and helping someone else along is hard.

We wait to see if the drowning of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, now an icon for the refugee cause, will move the world enough.

We talked to Metin Çorabatır, President of Ankara based think-thank the Research Centre on Asylum and Migration (IGAM) to discuss a humanitarian crisis that some are calling the most serious since the Second World War.

For close to 20 years Çorabatır was spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Gizem Adal, euronews: “As European leaders struggle to reach coherent decisions on how to deal with the refugee crisis, the corpses of young children are washed up on the seashore. The photograph of the young Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, found dead on Bodrum beach in Turkey on Wednesday, caused outrage across the world. After such shocking scenes, will the global authorities finally take constructive action?”

Metin Çorabatır, IGAM President: “I hope so. We don’t want the pain to remain exclusively in the heart; we want the decision-makers in their meeting rooms to find a permanent solution. They have to start searching for a serious solution regarding human rights, refugees’ rights. First of all they have to focus on international cooperation.”

euronews: “For many years, you were a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As someone who knows how these things work, what is the correct solution?”

Çorabatır: “The main burden is on the shoulders of Syria’s neighbours Turkey and Lebanon, and Jordan. Turkey has been hosting two million Syrians for a long time. This creates economic and social tension — a very heavy burden for any country. Even the richest countries would struggle. Look at England. It has accepted 216 Syrian request for asylum. However, here the numbers may mislead. According to United Nation’s 2014 report, 890,000 asylum requests were made in the European Union. This is the second-highest number since 1990. In order to resolve disagreements, they have to speak the same language and look for common diplomatic solutions.”

euronews: “Given that the number of refugees is growing by the day, and public opinion in Europe has been heavily influenced by this tragedy, do you think that these events will bring about a lasting solution to the war in Syria?”

Çorabatır: “The United Nations Security Council, formed in order to keep the peace, has failed in this regard. It hasn’t taken a single step, and has shown itself to be completely useless, as it has been in previous crises.

“The politics behind the tragedy is the most striking. It has caused this refugee crisis. Sadly the West, the Security Council, Russia and China have found no solution. Maybe they didn’t want to find one.

“At least after the tragic death of this little boy, the politicians must take some serious steps. They should not only shed tears in front of cameras.

“These serious steps have to focus on humanitarian concerns, human rights, refugee law and principles, and permanent solutions must be the end result.”

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