Understanding the Refugee Crisis in Europe, Syria, and around the World

Understanding the Refugee Crisis in Europe, Syria, and around the World


Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday. I wanna talk today about the refugee crisis
going on around the world but let’s begin with an old saying often attributed to that
great expert in the field of human evil, Joseph Stalin. “When one man dies, that’s a tragedy.
When thousands die, that’s a statistic.” Large numbers can feel cold and distant and
even kind of comforting because they don’t feel like people. And I think that’s one of
the reasons much of the world was able to ignore the years old Syrian refugee crisis
until recently. But then, after thousands of refugees died this year trying to get to
Europe, one three year old boy’s body washed ashore in Turkey. His name was Aylan Kurdi,
and he drowned with his five year old brother and his mom trying to get to Greece. His father, Abdullah, survived and now has
returned to Syria to bury his wife and children. In fact, when offered the opportunity to resettle
in another country Abdullah said, “Now I don’t want anything. What was precious is gone.” To talk about the refugee crisis, we need
statistics, but let us not forget what is precious. So for the past four and a half
years, there has been a horrific civil war in Syria, which began with the hope of the
2011 spring protests. Several dictatorships were toppled during the Arab spring, although,
some have since ended up with new dictators. In Syria, long reigning dictator Bashar al-Assad
has refused to relinquish power and instead has battled the rebellion with astonishing
violence, including torturing children, and gassing his own people with chemical weapons. So, back in 2011, Syria had a population of
22.4 million people. Here’s what it looks like today. More than 250,000 people have
been killed, about 10.6 million Syrians, less than half the population, still live in their
homes, 7.6 million people have been forced to flee within Syria, either moving to refugee
camps or to areas that are for the moment safer, and another 4 million Syrians have
left the country entirely. Of those people, about 1.6 million currently
live in Turkey; there are about a million each in Lebanon and Jordan, and there are
a few hundred thousand more in Iraq and Egypt. Ninety-five percent of Syrian refugees live
in those countries and they have been stretched incredibly thin by this refugee crisis. Jordan’s
population is now 25% refugees. You’ve probably seen the huge sprawling camps in Jordan and
Lebanon for refugees. And everything is completely underfunded,
because the U.N.’s Refugee Agency doesn’t have nearly enough money to deal with this
number of refugees. And in Turkey, most refugees live in kind of a legal limbo outside of camps,
because Turkey doesn’t expel them, but they also aren’t allowed to work. So even though many Syrians have good educations
and labor skills, they can’t make a living, and so in search of lasting refuge, thousands
have turned to Europe. And they pay smugglers thousands of Euros to get them via boat from
Turkey, Morocco, or Egypt, to Malta , southern Italy, or Greece’s southern islands. Those smugglers are essentially the only people
benefiting from Europe’s inconsistent, inhumane, and disorganized response to the refugee crisis.
To quote the U.N.’s High Commissioner on Refugees, “More effective international cooperation
is required to crack down on smugglers, including those operating inside the EU, but in ways
that allow for the victims to be protected. But none of these efforts will be effective
without opening up more opportunities for people to come legally to Europe and find
safety upon arrival.” And that leads us to a very important distinction
between the words migrant and refugee. This has often been called a migrant crisis, but
it really isn’t, because migrants choose to leave their homes in search of better education,
or employment opportunities. Refugees, to again quote the UN HCR “are persons fleeing
armed conflict or persecution. These are people for whom the denial of asylum has potentially
deadly consequences.” And ever since the 1951 Refugee Commission,
refugees have had certain rights under international law. These include the right not to be returned
to their country of origin if their safety cannot be assured, the right not to be penalized
for entering a country illegally if they request asylum, and the rights to life, security,
religious expression, primary education, free access to courts and equal treatment by taxing
authorities. If a migrant arrives illegally in the European
Union, they can be turned around and, in most countries, sent home fairly quickly. But a
refugee, and most of the people arriving in Europe right now are refugees, they have certain
rights under international law that all of Europe, and basically all of the world, has
agreed to for the last 65 years. In short, European countries have no obligations
to refugees, until those refugees arrive in Europe. But once a refugee is in your country,
you have certain legal responsibilities to them and that’s why the boat smuggling has
continued. European governments want to make it difficult
for refugees to get to Europe. They benefit when the trip is dangerous. If it were made
safe, or easy, there would be far more refugees coming to Europe. The real solution, to dramatically
increase the number of refugees legally accepted through non-smuggling routes, like a quota
system, well, that stuff’s politically unpopular. But until legal opportunities are available,
the smuggling and deaths will continue. To again quote the UN HCR, “Thousands of refugee
parents are risking the lives of their children on unsafe smuggling boats primarily because
they have no [other] choice.” And this is true, not only for Syrians, because
only about half the people seeking asylum through these sea routes are from Syria. Another
12% are from Afghanistan, which was the world’s leading producer of refugees for 30 years,
until Syria came along. Another 8% are from the northeast African nation of Eritrea, which
has one of the worst human rights records on Earth. Its government has been sighted
by the UN for executions, torture, forced labor and systemic rape by government officials. So, about 70% of the people trying to get
to Europe are from those three countries. Of course, there are also many migrants trying
to get to Europe via these dangerous over water routes. But, most of the people we’re
hearing about on the news are refugees, and the distinction is incredibly important. Ok, so, we have this massive humanitarian
crisis. Who’s to blame? Pretty much everybody. I mean, the Assad regime definitely gets a
lot of the blame, but so do Iran and Russia and China, who are providing direct, or indirect,
support to that regime and doing very little about the resulting refugee crisis. The Arab
states of the Gulf, although they’ve pledged financial support to Syrian refugees, have
accepted zero. ZERO! refugees from Syria. Australia’s refugee record is truly abysmal,
and possibly in violation of international law. Canada is accepting 30% fewer refugees
than they were a decade ago. And the United States is to blame as well. We’ve accepted
at tiny number of Syrian refugees, fewer for instance than Brazil. And instead of talking seriously about how
to address the refugee crisis, our immigration debate has become increasingly racist and
irrational. For instance, you often hear in the US and Europe, that immigrants are disproportionately
likely to commit crimes. But that’s simply untrue. A huge body of data says that refugees
and first generation immigrants to the United States commit crimes at a much lower rate
than other Americans. Ohhkay. And then, there’s Europe. The truth
is the xenophobic responses to the refugee crisis seen from some European governments
are just shameful. Like, when Hungary’s Prime Minister says that they must keep Muslims
out of Europe to “keep Europe Christian”, he’s not just denying the multi-cultural and
multi-religious history of Europe; he’s denying the international law that requires countries
to protect and house refugees regardless of their religious beliefs. Hank, when discussing refugees, I often hear
“Well, it’s not OUR problem”, or “We have to take care of OUR people.” But we are one
species sharing one, profoundly, interconnected world, and humans, all humans, are OUR people.
And when the oppressed and marginalized die because they are oppressed and marginalized,
the powerful are at fault. Three year old Aylan Kurdi would be alive
today if his family would have been welcomed by the European Union, or by Canada, or Australia,
or the United States, or Brazil, or the list goes on and on. And I think the reason the
world reacted so viscerally to that image of that dead boy on the beach is that instinctively,
we all knew that his blood was on all of our hands. We have legal obligations to refugees under
international law, but we also have ethical obligations to them, because they are our
people. In fact, one of the reasons we’re in this mess to begin with, is that for too
long we’ve labored under the delusion that regional crises have no global importance.
Imagining any widespread human problem as belonging to someone else is catastrophically
misguided. Like, an Ebola outbreak in Liberia is just a Liberian problem, right? Well, sure,
until it’s a Nigerian problem, and a German problem, and an American problem. And as we’ve learned all too painfully, the
Syrian civil war is not only a Syrian problem. I mean, for one thing, it’s led to the growth
of ISIS, a terrorist organization that kills not only Syrians and Iraqis, but Ethiopians
and Americans and Brazilians and Koreans and Turks. And recently, these people in Europe,
at train stations and at football games, have been promising that refugees are welcome. It’s a moving sight and an encouraging one
and I hope that European governments respond in kind. But the hardest work is not in making
the promise, it’s keeping it. This is going to be a long term, expensive, and complex
challenge for the world. And as the UN HCR has said, this massive flow
of people will not stop until the root causes of their plight are addressed. The ultimate
solution, the only ultimate solution, was outlined clearly for us by a thirteen year
old Syrian refugee. “[?] Please help the Syrians. The Syrians need help now. You, you just stop
the war, and we don’t go, we don’t uh, want to go to Europe. Just stop the war, the Syrian.” Until then Hank, until this war stops, we
have a legal and moral obligation to provide safe harbor for this young man and others
like him. And we also must provide financial support to the less developed countries, from
Jordan to Pakistan and to Iraq that are shouldering 90% of the world’s refugee burden. Hank, I have included links below to donate
to the UN’s refugee work, as well as Save the Children’s refugee work. I will see you
on Friday.

23 thoughts on “Understanding the Refugee Crisis in Europe, Syria, and around the World

  1. i ha to prepare for an mun with this agenda your video was the equivilant of many articles this was damn helpfull thank you so much

  2. All this Gutmensch speech cannot change the sad fact Europe cannot solve all the worlds problems. No jobs no homes. Why not go to the " only free Middle East country" Israël

  3. If you want to Europe, then apply for a visa like everyone else and come legally! We are being overrun! You won't know what is like to in Europe being infestation! My boyfriend was stabbed in Germnay by a Somalian man… Ask the Spanish and the Italians how they feel! Why should Europe have to take everything. Come to Europe but legally!

  4. It is strange through, how many of the richest Arab nations such as the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait & Bahrain etc haven't taken any refugees.

  5. If people were to say in their country maybe they could change it. But whatever happens, Arabs cause their own problems, Arabs are the problem so that Arabs should fix their problem. Human dying is the fault the of the people doing the killing. Get this Europe is not responsible for any of it Just because the UN (now dominated by none western nations that can not be trusted with such power) says something does not make it a moral imperative. Get it Mr. Green. The Europeans are not responsiblewe for ARAB lives. Arabs are. Stop being upset. Change that stablemen by Stalin. Foreigners are unimportant persons so don't bother counting them. We are not one people. Three year old Arabs are unimportant. Get it we are not one nation. We are not responsible for that boy. He is a dead body no more no less. Ebola can spread, dead Arabs do not spread. WE will be kind and will lose our culture. Europe is not multi ethic and multi religious. Diversity is not a strength. Your entire argument comes form a falicy. People and cultures are different and the peoples of Islam have show themselves to be the enemies of the west. And we are the west. This world yo ubelive in maybe a good thing, maybe. But it is snot here yet. I will treat the people of Islam when the drop Islam and become what westerners can see as Western. We don't want their culture here and we have aplenty of information to support that stand. All you have is the picture of a dead Arab child. Killed by the actions of Arab rulers.

  6. I don’t think he’s wrong. It’s a incredibly sophisticated problem, but it’s all about humanity. My opinion.

  7. The war refugee crises resulting from the 9/11/2001 attacks has always been one of the planned consequences, and actually an inextricable part of the plan at that. I give tremendous credit to the mass murdering attackers for their comprehensive sophistication because they literally maximized their gains and those of all of their recruited and willing co-perpetrators whose involvement made the attacks possible! Please study lcfor911.org. The 9/11/2001 attackers are still free and they are not finished!

  8. Syria is an evil country that produced ISIS which was attacking other countries. Sometimes, countries must be totally destroyed. Like Trump said, North Korea might be next.

  9. In reality you have to be more realistic love peace and harmony can not happen when you have millions of people taken over what is not rightfully theres. Europe and western countries didn't become well operating countries with out hard work, lives lost, fighting, war, perseverance et et it took hundreds of centuries to accomplish what we have now, and these people that come from there messed up war stricken hell holes or some just places they don't want to be a part of any more because they want the greener grass, can just rock up to our land, refuse to work, take our homes, spend all our taxes, take up all our health care, benefits, but also refuse to respect us, refuse to live in solidarity with us but then to go as far as to hurting us and killing us, in our own country that they are now apart of, I dont treat any people badly, when I go on holiday where ever it is, in the world, say Isreal, i would respect them, so would I if they were just visiting my home land, but when they start jumping boarders turning up with there hands held out, than bring over all there family, and there families family and carry on living like they did back where ever they come from, but than start complaining and want to change things just to suit themselves, and they make no changes to live like we do, and contribute nothing, it causes problems, you start to resent them, your country is starting to look not your country any more, your people arent looking like your people, your people dont act like your people, they don't speak your language, they believe in a completely different faith, and have completely different customs, when you go out in your own country and you feel like your in theres, because they are no longer your people, you no longer feel at home, at home, the migrants and refugees are now becoming the minorities, with that becomes power, before long this country that was once your home, is now some big fucken over populated, Arabic war zone where your race, your religion, your way of life that you ever knew doesnt even exist any more, that is the fear, that is the reality, that is what is happening and will continue to happen, Europeans are a race and a culture that is in the process of been completely destroyed because we were forced to share everything with people that only had one thing in mind and that was to take everything they can, invade and Imperialism! And that does not sit well with anyone that family fought for there country, for people that have worked there whole life for there country, has pride in there country, who love and respect there country, there heritage and there blood. African people are all about protecting Africa and it's people, no problems, Asia is all about protecting Asians, and there country, that's great, China is all for China, North Korea just for North Korea, Saudi Arabia is all about Saudi Arabia and the Arab people, or should I say men, there is no white people infesting there lands and telling them they must live in solidarity, there is no mass migration of Europeans taking over there land, attacking there people. Expecting and making them change there laws for Europeans lives, how outrages would that be, yet that is exactly what has happened in all western countries, and when the western people try to speak for themselves and the western people we are told to shut up, we are been racist, we are been prejudice, we are been Islamophobic. Westerners and Europeans who created Europe and Western countries now have no rights or say in there own country, they are forced to live in multiculturalism and such diversity it no longer makes sense or works, we work our arses off to support and pay a government that allow the United Nations the ultimate power to open our boarders up to mass migration of millions of dangerous, criminals and a bolbaric religious cult that want to destroy and eliminate all none believers and refuse to live by our
    Laws or way of life, now why would anyone in the right frame of mind want that. Now if that does not get through to you, please just read this website about
    Why Islam is dangerous, and 92% of refugees are Muslim. And why Muslim can not live as Muslim in a Western civilisation.
    https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/is-islam-compatible-with-democracy-and-human-rights/

  10. John, I've watched many of your videos. You are obviously a smart, articulate, and empathic person. But you are also worth something like $20 million dollars. Can you understand how those of us proles, who can never expect to make 1/10th of your earnings over our lifetimes might be upset by the endless stream migrants coming into the United States and Europe? Can you not see when you travel around that we live in a terrifying corporate oligarchy in which a very small percentage of people (of which you are one) have way way way more capital and resources than most of us, and that most of the capital comes from the corruption of this corporate oligarchy? Are you sympathetic to that argument at all? In general, I share your politics, but link that to the endless duty to help every single person in the world who is suffering. I look around at my family (most of whom have never made much money despite working hard their whole lives, and most of who has been in the country since the 1600s, and I simply cannot support linking this issue to my secular humanist leanings.

  11. We can have different opinions about what to do with refugees, but we shouldn't disagree on whether to save a child from drowning, after we imagine the sound they make.

  12. There are so many lies in this video I really don't know where to begin before you start doing all these claims and blaming Western people go and live for awhile to one of the places that are migrants leave in Europe to form a real opinion

  13. 1944: millions of European immigrants going to the Arab world with best shelters and kind Arab people helping the Europeans
    2019: millions of Arab immigrants going to Europe and being not accepted
    History sometimes will be forgotten and lots of people will say Iam wrong the WSJ told that and it had lots of photos

  14. My main question is that were the repercussions of iraq-afghanistan (libya) -invasion assesed prior to action? Mass immigration sets EU to a major disadvantage at a global stage…

  15. This video was made four years ago – still nothing changed…

    The EU still has to get their shit together, the nationalism, racism and rise of the right-wing is still on the up…it's getting worse by the day.

  16. Lets try out this thing called critical thinking on this subject of Assad gassing his own people….I know Assad is not a great man by no means but what if you were to say that our own CIA did this gassing in order to get a regime change done, I mean enough is enough with this mess that has been going on for years now and not to mention a thoren in americas behind for years. there has been many times the CIA has been called a pond to do this kind of thing in other countries and they do it very well. I mean hey its just a thought.

  17. But here is the big question! Why are all those refugees coming to western countries. While they have neighboring countries!

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