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2015年9月 9日 (水)

難民大量流入 欧州の結束と人権が問われる

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Refugee crisis tests EU solidarity and human rights principles
難民大量流入 欧州の結束と人権が問われる

There has been a sharp rise in the number of refugees and illegal migrants flowing into Europe from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, magnifying the turmoil.

Can the European Union, which emphasizes principles of human rights, organize a mechanism for member states to share the burdens of accepting refugees smoothly? Their solidarity will be put to the test.

The rapid rise in refugees stems from the ever volatile situation in the Middle East and North African countries as a civil war grinds on in Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group gains power.

The total number of refugees and illegal migrants arriving in EU countries by crossing the Mediterranean this year topped the 300,000 mark by the end of last month, already surpassing by far the about 220,000 refugees who reached there in the whole of last year.

In many cases, they headed for Europe aboard small vessels arranged by smugglers, with tragic incidents occurring one after another. Large numbers of migrants have lost their lives when their vessels capsized.

The photographs of a dead Syrian toddler washed ashore on a Turkish beach have shocked the world.

The EU has to cooperate with the relevant countries and quickly take such measures as cracking down on migrant smuggling vessels to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Most of the refugees and migrants are seeking to be resettled in wealthy countries such as Germany and the Nordic nations. In Budapest, a large number of refugees gathered at a station in an attempt to board trains for Germany, temporarily paralyzing the functions of the station.

Central role for Germany

Holding the key to the EU’s refugee policy is Germany, a country that has accepted the largest number of refugees. This year the number of refugees seeking asylum in Germany from around the world is expected to quadruple from last year to 800,000.

Germany, due to reflection on its persecution of Jews during the Nazi era, has adopted a liberal asylum policy. Its warm treatment, including the provision of living expenses to asylum seekers, has drawn a flood of refugees.

As a result, friction has surfaced there, with far-right extremist groups attacking refugee shelters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her strong sense of alarm, saying that for the EU, the refugee issue will have greater importance than the Greek fiscal crisis.

Merkel asserted that it is necessary to make “fair distribution” of refugees among the EU member countries and intends to realize this with cooperation of France and others.

From September to October, the issue of refugee quotas will be taken up for discussion at an emergency meeting of EU justice and interior ministers and at an EU summit.

The EU member countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Hungary, are opposed to quotas for refugee relocation among EU countries. In these countries, with less vibrant economies, there is strong anxiety among the people that their jobs will be taken away by refugees.

Germany and France need to expedite their efforts to win these countries’ agreement to the quota. It will be necessary to differentiate between refugees seeking protection from persecution and illegal migrants seeking jobs in EU countries.

For the fundamental solution to the refugee problem, it is vital to improve the situations in the Middle East and Africa. It is important for the international community, including Japan, to reinforce diplomatic efforts and support to achieve regional stability.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 8, 2015)


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