By Daniel Trilling
Myth 1: The crisis is over
The refugee crisis that dominated the news in 2015 and 2016 consisted primarily of a sharp rise in the number of people coming to Europe to claim asylum. Arrivals have now dropped, and governments have cracked down on the movement of undocumented migrants within the EU; many thousands are stuck in reception centres or camps in southern Europe, while others try to make new lives in the places they have settled.
But to see the crisis as an event that began in 2015 and ended the following year is a mistake, because it obscures the fact that the underlying causes have not changed. To see it in those terms only gives the impression of a hitherto unsullied Europe, visited by hordes of foreigners it has little to do with. This is misleading. The disaster of recent years has as much to do with immigration policies drawn up in European capitals as it does with events outside the continent, and the crisis also consists of overreaction and panic, fuelled by a series of misconceptions about who the migrants are, why they come, and what it means for Europe.
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Professor François Crépeau delivering the Inaugural Lecture as Francqui International Professor on February 08, 2018.
François Crépeau will be at the Université Catholique de Louvain from January to June 2018 as part of the Chair Francqui International Professor for Human Sciences, organised in collaboration with seven universities (UCLouvain, KULeuven, UAntwerpen, UGent, ULiège, USt-Louis Brussels, ULBrussels). He will be staying at the Centre Charles De Visscher pour le droit international et européen (CeDIE) within the Équipe droits européens et migrations (EDEM).
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Al Awda refugee camp, managed by URDA, Bar Elias, Bekaa, Lebanon (Source: Kikano, 2017)
Refugee populations are often perceived as an unexpected, disruptive, and temporary burden. This perception often drives countries of asylum to adopt short-term and exclusionary policies regarding refugees’ rights and settlements strategies. Almost 85% of the world’s refugees are in the Middle East & North Africa. This region has witnessed during the last few decades two of the most significant refugee crises. First, with the Palestinian refugee influx in 1948. Second, with the Syrian conflict after 2011. While in Turkey, the Syrian refugee population is estimated to be of nearly 3.5 million, Lebanon is hosting almost 500,000 Palestinians and 1.5 million Syrians. This presentation compares refugee hosting and settlements policies in Turkey and in Lebanon. It seeks to demonstrate that in Lebanon, the same policies, those adopted 70 years ago vis-à-vis the Palestinians, are being implemented today with Syrian refugees. These policies are based on institutional, social, economic and spatial exclusion. Seeking to dissuade refugees from staying, they engender similar drawbacks: competition over housing and jobs, refugee exploitation, increasing poverty, growing social tensions, security breaches, and (sometimes armed) ghettoization. The Lebanese experience will be then compared with the Turkish hosting policies for Syrian refugees, with an emphasis on the Turkey-EU deal. This panel highlights the importance of long-term planning and development strategies for refugees. It examines the benefits of integrative approaches and refugee empowerment for both refugee and host populations.
Rouba Al-Salem is a Steinberg Fellow in International Migration Law and Policy at the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, Faculty of Law, McGill University.
Faten Kikano is a researcher and a PhD candidate in the faculty of built environment at Université de Montréal.
Semuhi Sinanoğlu is a policy consultant from Turkey and a resident fellow at Jeanne Sauvé Foundation.
This event will be moderated by Associate Professor Nandini Ramanujam, the Executive Director and Director of Programs of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
François Crépeau, who just completed a six-year term as the United Nations' leading investigator on the human rights of migrants, says sealed borders are fantasy. (ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
“For the last six years, Canadian lawyer François Crépeau has served as the United Nations’ leading investigator and expert on the human rights of migrants. His post put him on the frontlines of an international crisis, during some of the most challenging years in recent memory…
He spoke to The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright about his time as UN special rapporteur and about why he believes resisting migration is an impossible goal.
In the last six years, in your position with the UN, you’ve travelled around the world. You’ve visited detention centres, camps, places where people try to cross borders. What stands out in your mind now from those visits?
François Crépeau: I was expecting this to be very grim. And what stood out from day one, when visiting detention centres or camps, was the sheer determination, the grit, the courage of those people — the fact that even if they were detained, in their mind they were already somewhere else. They were already in the next step of their journey. They might be sent back home, but they would come back.
They are going to come whether we like it or not, because this is what humankind has always done. They are going to try to find a place where they can thrive, flourish, feed their kids and educate their kids. They don’t do it, often, because they like it. They do it because that’s where the future lies for themselves and their families”
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