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Saturday, 22 June 2024
Refugees Are Used as a Bargaining Chip Between Countries
Jwan Dibo

Day by day, it becomes clear that there is no morality in politics at all, particularly in international relations. This conclusion might be somewhat axiomatic, but what is shocking is the new manifestations of the eternal dissonance between politics and morals.

One of these new manifestations is how various countries involved have exploited the international refugee crisis to serve their own agendas and interests. Of course, all this is at the expense of ignoring humanitarian and ethical dimensions of this exacerbating predicament.

The exploitation of the refugee crisis by different governments as a bargaining chip against each other is blatant evidence of the immorality of international politics.

The manipulation of the refugee card was accompanied by a disregard for their safety and lives. In addition to the harsh treatment, they have received from some transit countries while heading to Western Europe. The last chapter in this vivid tragedy was the death of 27 migrants who drowned in the English Channel while trying to reach Britain coming from France.

In recent years, several states have openly used the refugee card as a bargaining chip and blackmail against each other. Turkey is taking advantage of the Syrian refugee crisis against the EU. Belarus, at Russia's behest, uses refugees to harass and blackmail the EU. France bothers Britain when turns a blind eye to the activities of smugglers who send refugees on death boats to Britain. Britain, in turn, complicates asylum laws so that no one thinks of taking the risk to reaching British lands and applying for asylum. Poland deals brutally with refugees stranded in Belarus and prevents them from entering its territory as a transit station to Western Europe.

Turkey, Russia, Belarus, and Poland are signatories to the 1951 Special Convention on Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, but in practice they are not bound by and violate the provisions of the convention.

Last month, Poland deployed about 20,000 soldiers on its border with Belarus to prevent trapped refugees from crossing into its territory to reach Western Europe. Soldiers used water cannons and tear gas to thwart refugees and migrants from reaching their destination. Journalists were also prohibited from arriving at the scene to cover the events. The UN described the harsh Polish dealing with migrants as a violation of humanitarian laws and the right to asylum, which seems to be little by little turning into mere ink on paper.

Although Poland is a member of the EU, but it does not abide by the laws of the EU and infringes them in terms of closing its borders to refugees and treating them harshly. Major EU countries such as Germany and France do not object to the actions of the Polish government. This means that those countries are somewhat satisfied with this inhumane behaviour towards immigrants.

The EU is the first to use refugees as a bargaining chip in foreign policies between countries. In 2016, the EU succumbed to Turkish blackmail regarding sending tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Greek islands and then to Western Europe. The EU overlooked Turkey's poor human rights record in exchange for the latter's prevention of refugees from going to Greek islands.

The EU adopted similar policies towards refugees stuck in Libya, as it provided support to the Libyan Coast Guard to prevent refugees from reaching Italy via the Mediterranean. Note that the EU is fully aware of the horrific violations committed by Tripoli militias against migrants in detention centres that lack the most basic humanitarian elements.

Turning refugees into a bargaining chip between many governments and endangering their lives is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of international politics in this field. But what is shocking is the contribution of some old European democracies such as France, Germany and Britain to this tragedy that does not seem to end soon.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol seem to no longer have any effect. Therefore, we might witness a repudiation of this Agreement in the future. Moreover, we may see the adoption of new treaties in this regard in line with the actual policies pursued by the concerned countries.

Nobody wants to leave their home, their family, their country and become a refugee in diaspora. But it is oppression, poverty, civil wars, and the hope of finding a better life that drive millions to take this adventure.


Jwan Dibo

BY: Jwan Dibo