Tag Archives: refugees

Sweden, A Modern Melting Pot?

In my youth back in the 1930s and 1940s, if someone said the word, Sweden, thoughts of tall blond haired men and women entered my mind. That was true, to some extent that is, about fifty years ago, but the modern nation of Sweden increasingly has become a mixture of people from every part of the world. Over the past fifty years, the number of foreigners residing in Sweden has gone from 4% of the population to nearly 20% and that figure will continue to rise in the coming years. However, the largest non-Swedish group is compose of people from neighboring Finland, but there are also a contingent from Iraq of over 140,000. The Swedish experience is simply a manifestation of modern migrations which allow people from non-European lands to wind up in northern climes.

One can only wonder if the 140,000 Iraqis really wanted to live in Sweden or has the chaos of Iraq led Iraqi migrant to go to those nations having open doors for refugees from violence?

Is Iraq A Safe Place For A Return Visit?

Thousands of people have fled Iraq in order to escape the madness of bombings, killings, kidnappings and persecution. They ordinarily have sought refuge in other nations where, as time passes, they have adjusted and attempted to become members of another society. Iraqi refugees in the Netherlands are trying to make sense of the news that arrived in the mail. A letter from the Immigration Department of the Netherlands informs them now that law and order have returned to Iraq, they should consider leaving the Netherlands and returning home. Zaid Al-Hilli read the letter with a trembling voice and could only sigh and comment: “In Baghdad, people are still being killed by car bombs. There is looting. Children are being kidnapped. If I have to go back, I will be killed.”

Thousands of Iraqis in the Netherlands or anyone of a number of European nations could make the same comment. Yes, American soldiers will be leaving in 2011, but that is not good news for those fearing persecution in Iraq. Since the Bush invasion in 2003, at least half of Christians in Iraq have fled for their lives.

Isn’t it wonderful that George Bush wants to spread democracy around the world!

French Clear Refugee Camp

It is estimated that about two hundred million people currently fit the status of “refugee” since they have left their nation of origin to seek a life in another nation. French police surrounded a refugee camp located near Calais and then swooped in to capture refugees including over a hundred children. Refugee organizations believe since the police let people know they were coming, many parents left their children behind as they fled for safety. After refugees fled, in came the bulldozers which leveled the area and left those who once had a place to sleep in search of some form of lodging.

During the roundup, people cried, they protested, they tried resisting but to no avail. Many supporters of the refugees are appealing to the United Kingdom to take in the children and offer some form of asylum to those who face retribution if returned to their nation of origin.

The fact of two hundred million refugees means this is an issue for humanity, not just a single nation. Isn’t it time to establish world wide policies pertaining to treatment of refugees?

Denmark Cracks Down On Iraqi Refugees

One of the tragedies of the Iraq war was the need for over two million people to flee the nation in search of safety. Many have gone to European nations such as Denmark. Their arrival has undoubtedly posed issues for Europeans such as what constitutes the right of asylum for people who might face death or brutality if returned to their nation of birth. Yesterday in Copenhagen, police brutally removed 19 Iraqi asylum seekers from their shelter at the Bronson’s church where they have been given a place to live. Former Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, blasted the police action. “It went beyond the bounds of common humanity and decency.” Videos taken of the eviction depict an officer beating a young woman numerous times with his truncheon.

Danish officials argue they have reached an agreement with Iraq to allow refugees to return and they are assured no one will be hurt in the process. Of course, each day there are bomb attacks and dozens of people are killed and wounded. The assurance would carry more weight if it was given by a nation at peace.

String Em Up As Warning To Taliban!

As trucks carrying Pakistan civilians who were returning to their homes in the Swat Valley entered the town they saw a figure of a young man hung upside down from a hydro tower and carrying a message taped to his chest: “If nyone takes down this body, he will meet the same fate. This is a warning to the Taliban.” The body was either strung up by the Pakistan military or some angry civilians who were tired of being oppressed by the bearded men whose message is hate. The swinging body is a common tactic employed by the Taliban to intimidate and apparently someone decided to emulate the enemy they hate. Pakistan’s military claims it has killed over 1,500 Taliban and restored peace to the valley, but to residents who only too well recall similar promises and then being abandoned to the Taliban the issue is whether they will once again meet that fate.

Refugees are being given food and money to return home. But, a vital step to ensure peace is creating local militia which can maintain law and order. There must also be economic stimulus programs which ensure peace and prosperity. Like residents of the Swat Valley, we wait and hope for a future free of the Taliban.

South African Inaction= Zimbabwean Action!

It is estimated there currently are at least three million refugees from Zimbabwe in the nation of South Africa. The prior leader of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, allowed his personal feeling of friendship for President Robert Mugabe to ignore the chaos in Zimbabwe which resulted from corruption, brutality, and anti-white farmer policies to cause a collapse of the economy. The result was a mass exist of millions from their land in search of food and shelter for themselves and their children. The Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF) estimates at least two thousand Zimbabwean refugees continue crossing over into South Africa each month. Refugees automatically receive a permit which allows them to remain in South Africa for six months and their children can obtain schooling. They have the right to work and obtain health care. None of these is available in Zimbabwe where the unemployment rate is 94%.

President Zuma must make clear to President Mugabe that freedom must be restored to Zimbabwe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai allowed to organize a cohesive government free from the oppressive forces of the police and army. There must be an end to seizure of farms for a few years in order to restore some semblance of economic stability. If not, South Africa will be shouldering an enormous burden.

Room At The Church Inn In Denmark?

Asylum seekers from Iraq who face deportation back to the continuing chaos in their homeland are seeking refuge in churches in order to secure some place of peace. The Danish government agreed to return almost 300 refugees to Iraq. In an effort to avoid returning to chaos and violence, hundreds of Iraqis sought refuge in the Narrebo Church. As one refugee commented; ” I didn’t come here just to make money. I want to be alive and didn’t want to be killed,” particularly since many members of his family were killed in Iraq. Many of those facing deportation do not speak Arabic and are fluent in Danish or English, and do not have family back in Iraq.

A high percent of the refugees have been in Denmark for more than five years and have become Danes in many aspects of their lives. There is nothing awaiting them back in Iraq but death and loneliness. Even Syria has allowed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to be refugees in their country, surely, Denmark can allow a few hundred to remain.

Tragedy Of Darfur Continues

Every so often the media will decide to devote a few paragraphs or a few photos to the tragedy which unfurls in Darfur almost daily. Over 300,000 are dead, but their deaths have never generated the notice or protests which accompanied recent deaths in Gaza when 1,300 died. The indifference to Darfur can be interpreted as a reflection that Europeans or Americans simply are not that interested in the plight of Africans. In the latest example of Sudan aggressiveness, Sudanese troops took control of still another town and forced even more refugees to flee. The rebel Justice And Equality Movement, (JEM) fled the town, but they undoubtedly will continue fighting in more rural areas.

At least 30 civilians are dead, and more forced to join the 30,000 who have been displaced since January fighting and eventually these people will join the million refugees who now live in camps under UN supervision. UN forces may be in the vicinity of fighting but they tend to maintain a low profile and allow the killing and displacement process to continue.

South Africa Urged To Halt Deporting Zimbabweans

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the South African government to cease deporting refugees from Zimbabwe back to a nation which has collapsed and cholera is spreading. Refugees need some form of humanitarian assistance since the alternative of returning to Zimbabwe would be for many a death sentence. HRW noted: “To avoid deportation from South Africa, Zimbabweans currently have no option but to claim asylum, placing even greater pressure on a system already struggling to process refugee claims according to international standards.” The tragedy of this situation has been the failure on the part of the South African government to exert pressure on President Robert Mugabe to allow an honest coalition government which can implement reasonable efforts to restore the semblance of a vibrant economy.

South Africa failed to fulfill its historic mission of being a beacon of democracy in Africa and the result it is now forced to deal with an ever growing influx of refugees.

Zimbabweans Head For South Africa To Escape Death

The borders of South Africa are witnessing an influx of thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe as that nation collapses under the rule of a mad man who has lost contact with reality and only knows the rhetoric of past deeds. In the midst of an astronomical inflation rate, cholera spreading and millions facing starvation, the Mugabe family is concerned with taking over still another white farm since their personal wealth and power are the only things of concern. Thousands are seeking asylum and obtaining a place to sleep on the ground and some food to get through the day. Ironically, former South African president, Mbeki could have avoided the current crisis by taking a firm stand in defense of democracy in Zimbabwe, but he allowed his old friendship to stand in the way of the lives of millions.

Challenge Ncube, a Zimbabwe refugee, told reporters: “Mr. Mugabe and his thugs, the youth of Zanu-PF, they just destroy everything, everywhere.” Where are the nations of Africa during this time of turmoil and stress for Africans? Unfortunately, for too many the old rhetoric about western imperialism is more important than the reality of starvation.