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UN agencies, partners seek record $20 billion for humanitarian aid

After a dismal 2015 of mass refugee flows, war and catastrophe, leading U.N. agencies seeking over $20 billion in funding next year, the largest humanitarian appeal in history.

  1. The UN agencies for health, refugees and humanitarian assistance known as WHO, UNHCR and OCHA want to help some 87 million people in 37 countries.
  2. They are the most vulnerable people among an estimated 125 million in need in total.
  3. The agencies noted that worldwide, some 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes in recent years — the highest level in post-war era.
  4. The wars in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen will remain the “greatest drivers of prolonged humanitarian needs” in 2016.

Europe’s challenge

It is to keep the European project alive and to find a political solution to the quagmire in West Asia.

What does it mean to Paris?

Barbaric attack on innocent citizens in Paris is meant to simultaneously be an act of psychological terror, geopolitical strategy and ideological proclamation.

Why European economic project is under strain?

  • Challenge is not just possibility of a rightwing backlash against immigrants.
  • It is the sense of cultural pessimism that precedes it, the kind reflected with a vastly exaggerated sense in the current toast of Paris.

Which are two larger challenges in West Asia?

  • The Islamic State (IS) is clearly playing a geostrategic game, it has expanded the theatre of war to everyone who is targeting it, from Russia to Beirut to Paris.
  • It is counting on the fact that the disarray and contradictions among the objectives of the major powers will continue.
  • The nihilistic act of terror is also an instrument for specific territorial goals.

Will the expanding war draw in more recruits?

  • Nature of modern war has been such that it is largely civilians who have been at the front and centre.
  • It is said that Islam requires a reformation, but it was deeply fundamentalist.
  • Crisis and fragmentation of authority, has been underway in Islam for some time.
  • But, virtually no political space in West Asia for these movements to play out.

Way forward

  • The real debate is what political project can enlist the energies of young people.
  • Only choices seem authoritarianism or fundamentalism, neither of which has a credible economic narrative. Or else, the cycle of permanent anxiety and endless war appears to be imminent.

How is migrant crisis and Schengen Visa related?

  1. There are 26 countries in Schengen – 22 EU members and four non-EU.
  2. The Schengen Agreement abolished the EU’s internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc.
  3. It took effect in 1995.
  4. The conflict is as you can imagine – the unbridled influx of refugees to these countries is the cause of worry for this agreement to make sense in such times!
BBC

EU free travel zone in danger


 

  1. Germany, Sweden and Slovenia acted on their own to tighten borders & slow the influx of refugees.
  2. One of Europe’s prized benefits: the ease of travel through its Schengen is sort of becoming a trouble!
  3. Without effective control of external borders, Schengen will not survive.
  4. The Schengen travel zone involves 30 nations, including some not in the European Union.

Unaccompanied minor refugees rises in Europe: OECD

The increasing number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Europe is a “particularly striking and worrying characteristic” of the current refugee crisis, according to a new report on migration trends in 2015 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

  1. Many of the children who arrive at 16 or 17 years old come with no formal schooling. With no knowledge of the language of the host countries and more difficult than for adults as they need housing, schooling and specialised support services. Many children vanish from reception centres shortly after arrival, the report notes.
  2. OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2015 reports, the varying push-factors for migration in the countries of origin, the diversity of nationalities, the relatively high education levels of a large section of migrants in relation to the levels in the host country are some facets of the recent refugee wave.
  3. In 2015, Europe will receive up to one million asylum requests, and will grant asylum to between 350,000 and 450,000 refugees, the report predicts.
  4. This would suggest that less more than 50 per cent of applications may be rejected, an issue that is likely to further complicate the crisis.
  5. Looking forward, a range of risk factors could fuel flows within existing migration routes (e.g. further deterioration of security in Syria, Iraq or even Ukraine, instability in Lebanon).
  6. Demographic and economic factors in Sub-Saharan African countries will continue to generate a push for outmigration, as will high poverty and unemployment rates in the Western Balkans, especially among Roma.

Dozens of Migrants Drown as Boat Capsizes in Aegean Sea

For Greece, which is struggling with an enduring financial crisis as well as political upheaval, the surge in arrivals of migrants and refugees could not have come at a more challenging time.

  1. The Greek Coast Guard recovered the bodies of 34 migrants, including 15 children.
  2. Their wooden boat flipped over in strong winds as it attempted the short but often perilous crossing from nearby Turkey.
  3. Greece has long been a favored entry point, along with Italy and Malta.
NYT

Germany to reinstate border controls over surge in refugees

  1. Germany has become the destination of choice for many refugees after Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to relax asylum rules Syrians.
  2. The International Organisation for Migration said that more than 430,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year.

Why India won’t sign Refugee Treaty

In the absence of any domestic law or regional South Asian framework, India has desisted from taking its rightful regional leadership role in this increasingly critical matter.

  1. The refugee crisis arising from the Syrian conflict is only the latest reminder of the fact that India remains one of the few liberal democracies not to have signed, the international convention on refugees.
  2. Refugee crises may be caused by any number of reasons but the most common are war (Bangladesh), domestic conflicts (Tibet, Sri Lanka), natural disasters (famine), environmental displacement, human trafficking etc.
  3. India has signed neither the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention nor its 1967 Protocol, which has 140 signatories, an overwhelming majority of the world’s 190-odd nations. However, India continues to host a large population of refugees.

Why won’t India sign the Convention or the Protocol?

  1. Reasons are chiefly security-related,borders in South Asia are extremely porous and any conflict can result in a mass movement of people.
  2. India is home to diverse groups of refugees, ranging from Buddhist Chakmas from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, to Bhutanese from Nepal, Muslim Rohinygas from Myanmar and small populations from Somalia, Sudan and other sub Saharan African countries.
  3. At the time, UNHCR played a stellar role in helping devise India’s administrative response to the 9.8 million Hindu refugees who poured in from Bangladesh.
  4. It also helped to mobilize huge international finances to pay for Indian bills (and it wasn’t even the West’s war).
  5. In 2015, amid the biggest refugee crisis in the West since World War II, none of the reasons listed above justifies India’s continuing refusal to sign the Refugee Convention.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fond of quoting ancient Sanskrit sayings: one of them is “Atithi Devo Bhava”.

Escaping Eritrea – ruled by fear, not law

  1. Eritrea marked by repression and fear since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.
  2. Eritrea is third-largest source of refugees trying to reach europe, after Syrians and Afghans.
  3. They first take perilous journey into Sudan,the across Libya before setting out to sea to Europe.
  4. 400000 fled Eritrea in 2014,number doubled in past 6 years.

Refugee crisis: Home away from home

  1. According to a UNHCR report, India is home to nearly 2 lakh refugees.
  2. Problems faced – Don’t have any identification proof here. They are just given a refugee card.
  3. The biggest problems – getting good education, bank account, private jobs – all institutes demand a valid visa.

Rohingya refugees: The identity crisis

  1. Rohingya came to Myanmar in the 19th century when the British ruled all of what is now India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  2. In 1982, the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship by the government of Myanmar.
  3. They are Muslim people who live in northern Rakhine (Arakan) of Myanmar & are one of the most persecuted minority groups.

What is the Rohingya conflict?

  1. Rohingyas are the muslim people who live in the state of Rakhine (Arakan) in western Myanmar.
  2. According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
  3. The Rohingya conflict is one of the longest conflicts between the majority Buddhist Burmese and the minority Muslims in Myanmar.


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