The migrant/refugee crisis may be a problem of the EU’s own making or it may be an orchestrated plot on the part of Islamic State to exploit the unrest in Syria and create a tidal wave of refugees to swamp Europe. It may reflect shame on hordes of people who have declined the challenge to stand up and fight for their country in favour of demanding protection elsewhere. It may bring governments into disrepute for neglecting to intervene a couple of years ago when things got out of hand in Syria. But, however we apportion the blame, what is certain is that the exodus is now reaching biblical proportions and solutions must be found urgently. But not just any solutions – these people need a dignified and lasting solution.
It does not help that Western media has been indulging in emotional blackmail by highlighting the image of a boy’s body lying on a beach in Turkey. This attempt to ramp up the pressure on EU countries to accept more refugees serves only to simplify the issue and inspire botched, knee-jerk, guilt-trip solutions.
The EU should put pressure on the UN to swiftly produce a coherent policy on refugees. Secure camps should be set up under the aegis of the UN in the nearest safe country. Refugees should be processed on arrival and distributed in accordance with a sensible formula – given the reluctance of the disparate religious groups involved to integrate with one another, Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia could perhaps be prevailed upon to accept Sunni refugees and Shia countries like Iran could be persuaded to take in Shia exiles.
We are always being told that immigration is an unqualified social and economic good, that employers benefit from the cheap labour and that GDP is boosted. So, is it not the case that all nations accepting refugees will be only too grateful to avail themselves of the economic, social and cultural bounty? Is it not, in fact, surprising that David Cameron does not welcome refugees with open arms? No, of course not. Immigration may result in an increase in gross GDP, but GDP per capita goes down, and that is why immigrants are not necessarily the great net contributors that left-leaning politicians and commentators would have us believe.
Ultimately, the problem must be tackled at source. If the UN could mobilise a new international commitment to contain the unrest in Syria, one imagines that the vast majority of refugees would return in their droves.