Saturday, May 14, 2016

Corbyn Vs Cameron : What’s Worse? Promoting peace talks to save lives? Or knowingly arming people who are killing civilians including children?

Prime Minister David Cameron is making a habit every few months of accusing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn of being a “terrorist sympathiser”  for having (unwisely in my view) referred to some Hamas and Hezbollah representatives as “our friends in Hamas and Hezbollah”  (1) – (2).

This is pretty rich stuff, especially considering what David Cameron himself has done in continuing to actually arm people who are killing civilians.

Even Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, has been calling for the Israeli government to accept Hamas’ offers of talks on a long-term peace deal for some 8 years now (3) – (4).

So suggesting talks with Hamas is not an endorsement of everything Hamas has done, nor beyond the pale.

Corbyn is similarly trying to bring about peace between the entire elected Israeli and Palestinian governments – which includes Hamas, who won the last Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. You don’t do that by disowning your contacts (5).

David Cameron meanwhile is approving arms sales to governments and militaries involved in killing civilians, including children, in war crimes, on a large scale. These include the governments of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain among others.

While Hamas’ armed wing have certainly been involved in terrorist attacks targeting civilians in some cases and making no attempt to avoid killing them in others, Israel’s military have done the same over and over again to Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, and, since they are much better armed, killed far more.

Cameron has been not only approving arms sales to the dictatorships of Egypt, Saudi and Bahrain but actively promoting them .

At the height of the Arab Spring protests when Mubarak’s forces, the Saudis’ and those of the Bahrain monarchy were jailing, torturing and killing democracy protesters, Cameron brought a delegation of arms salesmen with him on his tour of this countries  (6).

The Saudis have been bombing schools and hospitals in the civil war in Yemen, in attacks described as war crimes by Amnesty International (7).

Months after Amnesty’s report on this, Cameron was still describing the latest arms deal he had negotiated with the Saudi monarchy as “brilliant” (8).

This is the man with the gall to criticise Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to torpedo the chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians by disowning Hamas.

David Cameron, a man happy to not only call war criminals and murdering dictators his friends, but not only approve, but actively promote and negotiate arms deals with them.

Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile only tries to get Hamas and Hezbollah involved in peace talks to end the killing.

(1) =  www.guardian.co.uk 07 Oct 2015 ‘Cameron on Corbyn: were the PM's attacks on Labour's leader justified?’, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/07/david-cameron-attacks-jeremy-corbyn-conservative-conference

(2) = Independent 04 May 2016 ‘David Cameron attacks Jeremy Corbyn over Hamas and Hezbollah 'friends' comments’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-jeremy-corbyn-hamas-hezbollah-friends-pmqs-labour-antisemitism-row-a7012821.html

(3) = Independent 10 Jun 2015 ‘It's time for Israel to talk to Hamas, says former Mossad head’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/its-time-for-israel-to-talk-to-hamas-says-former-mossad-head-10311651.html

(4) = Mother Jones 19 Feb 2008 ‘Israel's Mossad, Out of the Shadows’,
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/02/israels-mossad-out-shadows

(5) = BBC News 26 Jan 2006 ‘Hamas sweeps to election victory’,  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4650788.stm

(6) = guardian.co.uk 21 Feb 2011 ‘David Cameron's Cairo visit overshadowed by defence tour’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/21/cameron-cairo-visit-defence-trade

(7) = Independent 12 Dec 2015 ‘Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen's schools, Amnesty International claims’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-bombing-yemens-schools-amnesty-international-claims-a6770551.html

(8) = www.guardian.co.uk 25 Feb 2016 ‘David Cameron boasts of 'brilliant' UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/25/david-cameron-brilliant-uk-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-bae

No, Turkey is not a safe country for refugees

So sending refugees back there to
“discourage others from making the dangerous journey”
is hypocrisy

Many politicians have been claiming that they are refusing refugees asylum and sending them back to Turkey in order to “discourage others from making the dangerous journey” to the EU. There are a few problems with that story.

First Turkey is not a safe country for refugees in any sense. Turkey has been deporting Syrian refugees back to Syria since January , including many children (1) – (2).

On top of that Turkish border guards have actually begun shooting Syrian refugees as they try to cross the border  (3).

And since the middle of last year there has also been civil war in Turkey itself, between the Turkish government and military and Kurdish separatist groups. There was a peace process between the two and negotiations were close to a breakthrough. Then left-wing Kurdish pro-peace HDP party won enough seats in an election to take away President Erdogan’s AKP party’s majority in parliament (4) – (5).

At the same time in Syria,  Syrian Kurdish groups with the support of the PKK (a Turkish Kurdish separatist group) took territory in Syria, on the border with Turkey. This raised Turkish fears of a Kurdish state (6).

Erdogan responded by restarting the war with the PKK and other Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Kurdish civilians in Turkey are among the casualties of Turkish military sniper fire and there is some evidence of war crimes against Kurdish civilians (7) – (8).

This means Turkish Kurds aren’t even safe, let alone Syrian Kurdish refugees.

What’s more there has been no food for many of the Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon since the middle of last year, when the UN was forced to cut off food aid to many of them due to lack of funds. Wealthier governments simply haven’t donated enough money to buy that food (9).

Nor is Turkey even a proper democracy for people born there – journalists and even opposition MPs who criticise the government are often jailed.  Insulting the President is a criminal offence with a sentence of 4 years or more in jail. So refugees can forget about having any rights at all (10) – (11).

Libya is even more dangerous, with the many sided civil war still going on.

Why aren’t The Muslim / Arab countries Taking Their Share?
They are – EU countries aren’t

The Gulf states including Saudi, despite some mistaken media reports, have been taking in some Syrian refugees, but given Saudi is a hardline Sunni Muslim dictatorship with religious police, no Christian, Shia Muslim, secular, or moderate Sunni Muslim Syrian refugee is likely to want to go there. (see the blog post on this link – scrolling down to bolded sub-heading ‘Are the wealthiest Arab states refusing to take in any Syrian refugees?’)

The reality is that Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have each taken far more refugees per capita and relative to their size and wealth than any EU country. (also see comparison of the UK and Jordan on the post on this link under bolded  sub-heading ‘Is the UK taking more than its share of refugees'). (12)

The EU and the UK should take more. And as long as both are sending refugees, including children, back to Turkey, pretending it’s a “safe country”, it is impossible to be proud to be either British or European.

True, David Cameron did do a partial u-turn on his government’s refusal to allow any unaccompanied child refugees from Calais to be granted asylum in the UK. But this only allows children who arrived before 20th March to apply for refugee status – and there is no guarantee of any who reach their 18th birthday soon being allowed to stay after that (13).

Why are they coming here illegally?
Because They’re Given No Other Option

As for the outrage over migrants and refugees “coming here illegally” what choice are they given? The vast majority of them have none. Other than the pitiful number of 4,000 a year being selected by the UK from refugee camps in Turkey, out of millions of Syrian refugees, to one of the richest and largest countries in the EU, they have to the EU or UK illegally to make an asylum claim (14) – (15).

The obvious alternative would be for governments like the UK’s to tell their embassies in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon (and also countries bordering Libya, like Tunisia) to accept applications for asylum from people in those countries. Those whose claims were judged genuine would be granted refugee status and helped to travel safely to the UK, meaning they wouldn’t have to make dangerous journeys, pay people smugglers who are often violent criminals, or do anything illegal.

 

(1) = BBC News 15 Jan 2016 ‘Turkey 'acting illegally' over Syria refugees deportations’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35135810

(2) = Amnesty International 01 Apr 2016 ‘Turkey: Illegal mass returns of Syrian refugees expose fatal flaws in EU-Turkey deal’,
https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/04/turkey-illegal-mass-returns-of-syrian-refugees-expose-fatal-flaws-in-eu-turkey-deal/

(3) = Independent 31 Mar 2016 ‘Turkey 'shooting dead' Syrian refugees as they flee civil war’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-shooting-dead-syrian-refugees-flee-civil-war-a6960971.html

(4) = Newsweek 04 Aug 2015 ‘Turkey's Erdoğan calls on other parties to be 'realistic' after his party loses its majority’, http://europe.newsweek.com/turkey-war-kurds-pkk-331163?rm=eu

(5) = Independent 08 Jun 2015 ‘Turkey's Erdoğan calls on other parties to be 'realistic' after his party loses its majority’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkeys-erdo-an-calls-on-other-parties-to-be-realistic-after-his-party-loses-its-majority-10304127.html

(6) = Telegraph 25 Jul 2015 ‘For Erdogan, Turkish assault is about containing the Kurds as much as fighting Isil’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/11762210/For-Erdogan-Turkish-assault-is-about-containing-the-Kurds-as-much-as-fighting-Isil.html

(7) = Guardian 08 Sep 2015 ‘Kurdish civilians hit by snipers as Turkey cracks down on militants’,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/08/kurdish-civilians-killed-snipers-turkey-cracks-down-militants

(8) = Independent 22 Jan 2016 ‘Video shows Kurds waving white flag 'shot by Turkish soldiers'’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/video-shows-kurds-waving-white-flag-shot-by-turkish-soldiers-a6828416.html

(9) = Guardian 06 Sep 2015 ‘UN agencies 'broke and failing' in face of ever-growing refugee crisis’,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/refugee-crisis-un-agencies-broke-failing

(10) = New Yorker ‘Turkey’s jailed journalists’, http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/turkeys-jailed-journalists

(11) = BBC News 16 Apr 2015 ‘The problem with insulting Turkey's President Erdogan’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32302697

(12) = Amnesty International 03 Feb 2016 ‘Syria's refugee crisis in numbers’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/02/syrias-refugee-crisis-in-numbers/

(13) = guardian.com 07 May 2016 ‘Should David Cameron’s U-turn on unaccompanied child refugees be celebrated?’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/should-david-camerons-u-turn-on-unaccompanied-child-refugees-be-celebrated

(14) = BBC News 07 Sep 2015 ‘UK to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34171148

(15) = See (10) above

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Migrant Myths 2 : The "Flood" of migrants and refugees to the EU and UK - There isn't one, but if Syrian refugees continue to be left to starve there soon will be

Summary: While there is a lot of talk of a “flood” of refugees to the EU or a “migrant crisis” the numbers involved are pretty small compared to the population, size and wealth of the EU – around 0.6% of the existing EU population in 2015 for instance. (This figure includes all migrants estimated by the EU border force Frontex to have entered undetected, and of all nationalities). More a growing trickle than a flood.

The proportion of these coming to the UK is even smaller as the UK gets less than 5% of asylum applications to EU countries. Ninety-five per cent of Syrian refugees are in Syria and neighbouring countries.

The real crisis is for countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Jordan, for instance, a country the size of Cornwall and much poorer than the UK , has about 1.2 million Syrians, an increase in its population since 2011 of 25%.

The widespread reports that the richer Arab Gulf states have taken in no Syrians are also false. In fact they have taken in about 1.3 million Syrians and in Saudi’s case given them rights to free education and healthcare, but as they are not signatories to the 1951 UN refugee convention, none are reported in UN statistics as refugees.

Since Saudi for instance has an extreme version of Sharia law, and oppresses non-Sunni Muslims, many Syrian refugees – who include Christians, Shia, Alawites and secular or moderate Sunnis, as well as non-Arab Kurds, will not want to live there either.

Many of the Syrian refugees in countries bordering Syria are receiving no food aid or medical treatment or education for their children, because wealthier countries have not donated enough to the UN to pay for this.

The £1.3 billion over 4 years that the British government boasts about having given to refugees is about £400 million a year out of annual public spending of around £700 billion. It is only “generous” compared to the even smaller amounts given by other countries. Its latest pledge only increases this to around £500 million a year (around 0.07% of the UK’s annual public spending).

Unless EU governments , the US and the Gulf states donate a lot more money to the UN to feed Syrian refugees , there really will be a flood of them into Europe soon – especially with the governments of countries neighbouring Syria having started deportations of Syrians, and the Turkish government’s restarting of its war with Turkish Kurdish separatists, which makes Turkey even less safe for Syrian Kurd refugees.

A flood of migrants and refugees to the EU and UK?


Only 5% of Syrian refugees have been taken in so far by countries outside the Middle East. The other 95% are in Syria itself (about 18 million internally displace people forced out of their homes but still somewhere in Syria) or refugees in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. The numbers granted refugee status in neighbouring countries are
over 2.5 million granted refugee status in Turkey, over 1 million in Lebanon, about 600, 000 in Jordan , 250,000 in Iraq (which has a civil war itself) and 100,000 in Egypt (a military dictatorship) . However the total numbers of Syrian refugees in these countries are higher, as many have not been granted formal refugee status. Lebanon and Jordan are small and fairly poor countries. (1).

Lebanon alone has taken in probably more Syrian refugees than the entire EU combined at 1.1 million (or 1.2 million including those not granted refugee status), a 25% increase on its pre-Syrian civil war population of 4.3 million (which already included 450,000 Palestinian refugees).

The EU by comparison got asylum claims from a bit over 200,000 Syrians in 2015 – or just 0.04% of its 504 million population, or 270,000 total since 2011, around 0.05% of its 504.5 million population on the first day of 2011. Of course there were other migrants and asylum seekers from other countries too. The European border agency Frontex estimates the total number of migrants coming to the EU  illegally in 2015 was around 1.5 million, including those likely to have avoided border controls. The numbers who enter legally each year have been similar from 2010 at about 1.4 to 1.5 million a year. So for 2015 the total number of legal and illegal migrants would be around 3 million, or a 0.6% increase in the EU’s population if all were allowed to stay (which they will not be as, while applications may take a long time to process, many applications are rejected each year and around 40% of rejections result in deportation in the same year as they are rejected) (2) – (5).

Multiplying by 4 for the years since the Syrian civil war started in 2011 it would come to a 2.4% increase in population from all forms of immigration. (This will be a significant overestimate as there were more migrants and refugees in 2015 than in previous years)

These figures don’t include the number of non-EU nationals who leave the EU (emigrate from it) every year, from around 700,000 in 2010 to over 800,000 in 2013. That would make the overall growth of non-EU national population in the EU about 2.5 million in 2015, or 10 million over 4 years maximum or around 0.5% per year, or 2% over 4 years (again likely an over-estimate) (6).

So the total increase in the EU’s population from immigration from outside the EU is not so much the “flood” the media often talk of as a rapidly growing trickle relative to the size of the lake it’s flowing into.

And of course immigration and emigration aren’t the only factors affecting population growth. Birth and death rates also affect it. Looking at total population growth for all the countries that are now EU members since 1960  there has not been any significant increase in the rate of population growth. Birth rates have fallen significantly over that time, while people are also living longer due to improved living standards and medical care. The result is a growing population, but with a growing percentage of elderly people (7).

Without either immigration (with immigrants being younger on average) or other measures to increase the birth rate (e.g the 35 hour week tried in France), or both, we may end up with not enough people of working age to pay the taxes to fund healthcare and pensions for pensioners.

But ever increasing population results in increasing pollution, deforestation and environmental damage, including climate change. This is a difficult circle to square.

The rate of population growth in the EU has actually been falling for decades though and is considerably lower than it was in the 1960s.


Are the wealthiest Arab states refusing to take in any Syrian refugees?

The Gulf states – Sunni ‘monarchies’ (dictatorships) allied to the US and who are funding and arming many of the Syrian Jihadist Sunni rebels (including Al Nusrah, the Syrian wing of Al Qa’ida) are refusing to take in any Syrians as refugees, as they are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee convention.  However some Syrian refugees have been given residency permits to live in Saudi and granted free education and healthcare (the Saudi government claim over 100,000 though this is not an independently verified figure) (8) – (9).

World Bank figures gave the total for all the Gulf monarchies as over 1.3 million Syrians living in them in 2013 , 1 million in Saudi, but the UNHCR figure in 2015 was just 500,000, possibly due to definitions of who was being counted (10).

However even Saudi citizens have no real rights not to be imprisoned or executed without fair trial. Immigrants working in Saudi are exploited ruthlessly.

And Saudi Arabia has an extreme version of Sharia law based on the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam. Syrian refugees include Christians, Alawites and Shia, all of who face persecution in Saudi, along with moderate and secular Muslims who do not want to live under Sharia law. So many refugees would rather avoid Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships with religious laws.

Is the UK taking more than its share of refugees coming to the EU? No, far less

The UK’s population has grown steadily too, around a 20% increase in the last 50 years. The rate of increase has gone up and down over that period, but is currently higher than at any point since the 1950s (11).

The UK, with over 10% of the EU’s population, and one of the richest countries in it, gets less than 5% of asylum applications for refugee status from people who are not citizens of any EU country. So the people at Calais are not a flood either, but an even smaller trickle. For instance in the second quarter of 2015 the UK got just 3.5% of applications to EU countries. In the  third quarter it got just 2.86% (12).

And that trickle is not higher than ever before either – the
number of asylum applications in the UK in 2014 was about the same number as in 1990. And overall about 52% of asylum applications processed in 2014 in the UK were refused (13) – (14).

The UK actually gets very few asylum applications relative to it’s size and wealth – one of the lowest rates in the EU relative to our population.


Source : BBC News (15)

The UK, twice as wealthy as Lebanon in GDP per capita and a much larger country in terms of population and land area, had granted just 5,102 Syrians the right to remain as refugees by August 2015 and offered to take just 4,000 a year in future. (Total numbers will be higher as some will be waiting for applications to be heard, but still likely in the thousands compared to Lebanon’s millions)

Graphic : http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/GB/LB


The real refugee crisis is in Syria’s neighbours, not the EU, but unless the EU provide more money to feed and house refugees, it may be an EU crisis soon


The EU and UK are not suffering a refugee “flood” or “crisis”, but manageable numbers both in terms of their exsiting population, their land area and their wealth. The real refugee crisis is in Syria and for its neighbours. But if the wealthier governments continue to fail to provide enough money to feed and house refugees in countries neighbouring Syria, there may soon be a real flood.

Those Syrians in refugee camps in the Middle East are not getting enough food, and often no medical treatment for illnesses and wounds, as donations from governments around the world have been too low. Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon currently get under 50 cents or 35 pence worth of food a day, not nearly enough. The Turkish government has begun sending many back to Syria. Jordan has closed its border with Syria leaving thousands of refugees stranded in the desert. Lebanon has also begun deporting Syrian refugees . The governments of the three countries are saying they can’t take any more refugees
(16 )  – (19).

The UK’s supposedly “generous” aid to Syrian refugees in the Middle East comes to about £1.1 billion over 4 years since the Syrian civil war began, or a bit under £300 million a year, out of annual public spending of around £700 billion (thousand million) a year. The fact that other EU governments have given even less is nothing to boast about. Even Cameron’s latest pledge to increase it to around £510 million a year from the UK and ask other EU countries to increase similarly is far too little. It amounts to under 0.07% of the UK’s annual public spending of over £700 billion a year (20) – (22).

Sources

(1) = UNHCR 19 Jan 2016 ‘Syria Regional Refugee Response - Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal’, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

(2) = BBC News ‘Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in graphics’
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911 (200,000 asylum applications from Syrians EU 2015; Frontex 1.5 million migrants estimate for 2015)

(3) = Al Jazeera 22 Dec 2015 ‘One million 'refugees and migrants' reached EU in 2015’, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/million-refugees-migrants-reached-eu-2015-151222100045573.html (270,000 Syrians applied for asylum in EU countries since 2011)

(4) = BBC News 09 Sep 2015 ‘Migrant crisis: Who does the EU send back?’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34190359 (only 39% of rejected asylum claimants deported from the EU in 2015)

(5) = BBC News 13 Aug 2015 ‘What happens to failed asylum seekers?’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33849593

(6) = Eurostat 10 Jun 2015 ‘Immigration in the EU’,
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/docs/infographics/immigration/migration-in-eu-infographic_en.pdf

(7) = Eurostat Jul 2015 ‘Population and population change statistics’,
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Population_and_population_change_statistics

(8)= Huffington Post 23 Sep 2015 ‘Western Media's Miscount of Saudi Arabia's Syrian Refugees’,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anhvinh-doanvo/europes-crisis-refugees_b_8175924.html

(9) = Guardian 12 Sep 2015 ‘Saudi Arabia says criticism of Syria refugee response 'false and misleading'’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/saudi-arabia-says-reports-of-its-syrian-refugee-response-false-and-misleading

(10) = News Week 12 Apr 2015 ‘The Gulf States Are Taking Syrian Refugees’, http://europe.newsweek.com/gulf-states-are-taking-syrian-refugees-401131

(11) = ONS 26 Jun 2014 ‘Changes in UK population over the last 50 years’, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk--england-and-wales--scotland-and-northern-ireland/2013/sty-population-changes.html

(12) = Eurostat News Release 10 Dec 2015 ‘Asylum in the EU Member States More than 410 000 first time asylum seekers registered in the third quarter of 2015’, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7105334/3-10122015-AP-EN.pdf/04886524-58f2-40e9-995d-d97520e62a0e

(13) = Migration Observatory , Oxford university, 13 Aug 2015, ‘Migration to the UK : Asylum’, In 2014, 59% of asylum applications were initially refused. 28% of appeals were eventually approved,
http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migration-uk-asylum

(14) = Migration Observatory , Oxford university, 13 Aug 2015, ‘Migration to the UK : Asylum’, Figure 1 - Asylum applications and estimated inflows, 1984-2014,
http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migration-uk-asylum

(15) = BBC News ‘Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in graphics’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911

 (16) = Observer 06 Sep 2015 ‘UN agencies 'broke and failing' in face of ever-growing refugee crisis’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/refugee-crisis-un-agencies-broke-failing

(17) = BBC 15 Jan 2016 ‘Turkey 'acting illegally' over Syria refugees deportations’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35135810

(18) = Independent 22 Jan 2016 ‘Jordan blocks Syria border leaving thousands of refugees in the desert - including hundreds of pregnant women’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/jordan-blocks-syrian-border-to-leave-thousands-of-refugees-trapped-in-the-desert-including-hundreds-a6828471.html

(19) = CBS/AP 07 Feb 2016 ‘Turkey: We're at end of "capacity to absorb" refugees’,
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-has-reached-the-end-of-its-capacity-to-absorb-refugees/

(20) = DFID Syria Crisis Response, https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/dfid-syria-crisis-response

(21) = http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/total_spending_2015UKbn

(22) = www.theguardian.com 04 Feb 2016 ‘David Cameron calls for billions more in international aid for Syrian refugees’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/03/david-cameron-calls-for-billions-more-in-international-aid-for-syrian-refugees

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Migrant and Refugee Myths 1: Why are they all young men? They’re not

First, they’re not. Of the one million people who came to the EU by boat from non-EU countries in 2015, half were women and children. As the vast majority of migrants come by boat, this will mean close to 50% of all migrants were women and children.  Eurostat figures on all non-EU asylum applications in EU countries in 2014 (coming by land and sea) show 70% were male and 30% were female, and of those who were male, many were children  (1) – (2).

The figures for the first half of 2015 were similar. This led to claims that migrants were “mostly young men”, but by the end of it , as mentioned already, half were women and children.

Some claimed the change in the percentages over time was due to the UN and EU fiddling the stats, ignoring the fact that well over half a million more migrants arrived in the EU in the last several months of 2015.

One of the actual reasons for the change over that period is that many of the men are making the long, hard, dangerous journey to an EU country so their wives and children can follow them from the refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon or Syria. If they are granted asylum then their families are likely to be granted asylum too. Then their family can join them legally, without having to be at the mercy of criminal gangs of people smugglers, or the significant minority of criminals among the migrants who prey on the ordinary refugees, often robbing, raping or killing them (3).

Of Syrian refugees in Middle Eastern countries , over 50% are female and 26% are 17 or younger on UN statistics (4).

The higher proportion of young men among refugees travelling to the EU is likely also down to the fact that  the journey to the EU is a long, hard one and can be risky too. And men are not any safer from being killed in a civil war – they may even be more likely to be jailed, tortured or killed as they’re more likely to be suspected of being a fighter for another side.
The Bosnian Serbs at Srebrenica in 1994 massacred every “male of military age” which they defined as from 16 to 65 years old.

Of course some migrants from some countries will be more economic migrants than refugees, but that does not make every male asylum seeker a fake, or an economic migrant.

Another reason why more younger men may come is that families in poor countries often send one member to go to a wealthier country to get a job and send money home. Money sent back to the country they were born in by people who have come to wealthier countries dwarfs the amount of foreign aid provided by governments (5).

 

Sources

(1) = UNHCR Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response – Mediterranean (retrieved 20 Jan 2016),
http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php

(2) = Eurostat 21 May 2015 ‘Asylum Statistics :  Share of male (non-EU) asylum applicants in the EU-28, by age group and status of minors, 2014 (%),http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics  and http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/File:Share_of_male_%28non-EU%29_asylum_applicants_in_the_EU-28,_by_age_group_and_status_of_minors,_2014_%28%25%29_YB15_III.png

(3) = National Review 12 Oct 2015 ‘Why So Many of Europe’s Migrants Are Men’, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425398/why-europes-migrants-are-men

(4) =  UNHCR Syria Regional Refugee Response - Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal (retrieved January 2016) http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

(5) = www.theguardian.com 30 Jan 2013 ‘Migrants' billions put aid in the shade’,
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jan/30/migrants-billions-overshadow-aid

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Corbyn is not an anti-semite - He promotes peace negotiations while his critics approve arms sales

The accusation that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic based on some of the people who have spoken at the same rallies as him or run charities he has backed is a serious one, but unfounded.

Corbyn did call members of Hamas and Hezbollah who came to a conference in Britain “our friends”.  It’s fair enough to discuss whether that was a good choice of words. Corbyn argues he was being diplomatic and says he does not agree with many of Hamas or Hezbollah’s views or actions (1).

But it is not evidence that he is anti-Semitic just because some of them are and he favours peace negotiations between them and Israel

Corbyn did speak at Stop the War rallies in which some other speakers have at other times and places expressed anti-Semitic views. Again, that does not make Corbyn an anti-Semite (2).

If it did then Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, who has been calling for negotiations with Hamas for almost a decade now would also be anti-Semitic. It’s a safe bet that he’s not (3) – (4).

The same goes for Shlomo Gazit , the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet military intelligence agency, who told the Jewish magazine Forward in 2007 that the Israeli government’s demands for full recognition of Israel by Hamas before negotiations even began was “ridiculous, or an excuse not to negotiate” (5).

Israeli professor Yossi Alpher also pointed out in 2006 that “Israel never demanded recognition from Egypt or Jordan as a precondition for negotiating with them; recognition is a logical way to conclude successful peace talks, not to begin them.” (6)

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami has made the same point (7).

Israeli historian Avi Shlaim pointed out in an interview with BBC Newsnight recently that Corbyn had backed the Deir Yassin Remembered charity long before it was taken over by a Holocaust denier. And Shlaim said he himself supports Deir Yassin Remembered because that massacre (of Arab civilians by Zionist militias during the 1948 war) should be remembered (see from 23.30 on in this BBC iplayer recording) (8).

As for associating with people involved in terrorism, the Israeli government has repeatedly overseen operations in which the Israeli military deliberately target and kill civilians in war crimes – most recently in Netanyahu’s last Gaza war, in which a British reporter witnessed Israeli forces targeting and killing civilians with artillery , tanks and small arms during a ceasefire. Amnesty International’s investigation found war crimes in the first day’s Israeli strikes alone which killed hundreds 135 civilians including 75 children (9) – (11).

Netanyahu and many of his government ministers have also made it clear  that they will never allow a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – and in some cases said that they will not allow any kind of a state at all.

How is this better than those Palestinian extremists who refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist on any borders – who incidentally, do not include all of the Hamas leadership, many of who have said they would consider a two state solution on roughly the pre-1967 war borders.

Yet  current and former members of the British government – New Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative - are not condemned as anti-Semitic against Arabs (Arabs, like Jews, also being a Semitic people) for their associations with the Israeli government – which are far closer, involving providing arms to them. The current government has scrapped the last restrictions on arms sales to Israel despite its recent war crimes (12).

Gordon Brown, who criticises Corbyn for the people he talks to, oversaw a government which continued arms sales to Israel even after the war crimes committed by Israeli forces in the 2008/9 Gaza war – and to Sri Lanka while the Sri Lankan military were firing on field hospitals with heavy artillery and rounding up and massacring Tamils on suspicion or being Tamil Tiger fighters, before dumping their bodies in mass graves. (13) – (14).

Jeremy Corbyn has never armed Hamas or Hezbollah. Nor would he. He has done far more to promote peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians than most of his critics, many of who have actively facilitated war.

(1) = Channel 4 news 13 July 2015 ‘Jeremy Corbyn: 'I wanted Hamas to be part of the debate'’, http://www.channel4.com/news/jeremy-corbyn-i-wanted-hamas-to-be-part-of-the-debate

(2) = BBC News 19 Aug 2015 ‘Corbyn 'forgot' meeting banned pro-Palestinian activist’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33991920

(3) = Interview with Efraim Halevy in Mother Jones Magazine 10 Feb 2008 ‘Israel's Mossad, Out of the Shadows’, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/02/israels-mossad-out-shadows

(4) Independent 10 Jun 2015 ‘It's time for Israel to talk to Hamas, says former Mossad head’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/its-time-for-israel-to-talk-to-hamas-says-former-mossad-head-10311651.html

(5) =  Forward 09 Feb 2007 ‘Experts Question Wisdom of Boycotting Hamas’, http://www.forward.com/articles/10055/

(6) = Forward 20 Oct 2006 ‘Preconditions for a Problematic Partner’,
http://www.forward.com/articles/5948/

(7) = Times 26 Feb 2009 ‘Peace will be achieved only by talking to Hamas’, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article5804266.ece

(8) = BBC Newsnight 18 Aug 2015 – watch on BBC Iplayer here from 23.30 on,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06764cv/newsnight-18082015

(9) = See the post on this link and sources in it

(10) = Channel 4 News Blogs – Paul Mason 01 Aug 2014 ‘In the midst of Gaza’s bloody ‘truce’’, http://blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog/deadly-shelling-threatens-gaza-truce/1892

(11) = Amnesty International 29 Jul 2015 ‘Gaza 'Black Friday': Cutting edge investigation points to Israeli war crimes in Rafah’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/07/gaza-cutting-edge-investigation-rafah/

(12) = Independent 16 Jul 2015 ‘Government lifts remaining restrictions on arms sales to Israel after year-long review’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-lifts-remaining-restrictions-on-arms-sales-to-israel-after-yearlong-review-10394143.html

(13) = theguardian.com 30 Mar 2010 ‘MPs call for review of arms exports after Israeli assault on Gaza’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/mar/30/arms-british-gaza-assault

(14) = Times 02 Jun 2009 ‘Britain sold weapons to help Sri Lankan army defeat Tamil Tigers’, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article2610539.ece

Many respected economists say Corbyn’s ‘Peoples’ QE’ plan to issue money to invest in ways that could create economic growth is a good one

There are politicians and media commentators every day claiming that Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for Peoples’ QE is unrealistic and economically unfeasible. The policy would involve government issuing money to invest in public services and in loans and grants for small and medium businesses, in order to increase economic growth (1).

Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has claimed that basic economics tells us it won’t work. Yvette Cooper, one of Corbyn’s rivals for the post of labour leader, claims that as an economist she can say it would be disastrous (2) – (3).

Labour Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie has even claimed that it would lead to both inflation and an increased national debt. That would be pretty surprising if it happened, given that inflation reduces the value not only of a nation’s currency but also its debts denominated in that currency, suggesting the Shadow Chancellor’s grasp of basic economics is somewhat shaky (4).

Gordon Brown's continuation of "light touch regulation" of the banks (a euphemism for the minimal regulation begun under Thatcher) led to the banking crisis. And his claim that he would "end the cycle of boom and bust forever" predictably turned out to be nonsense. So New Labour's economic credentials aren't exactly great.

Yet many highly respected economists, including some who predicted the banking crisis say it and Corbyn’s other anti-austerity policies would work – and work far better than the current UK government’s counter-productive ones.

Australian economics professor Steve Keen, who predicted the banking crisis, says it’s a good policy. Nobel prize winning former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz backs it and Corbyn’s other economic policies. So does Paul Krugman (5) – (8).

Even some columnists for the Financial Times have said the policy could work (9).

Critics of the policy say it would lead to inflation. It would lead to some inflation, but inflation is currently zero, while quarterly economic growth is under 0.5% and unemployment is 1.85 million on official figures and much higher in reality, as these figures are fiddled. So creating economic growth and jobs should be a much higher priority than inflation at the moment (10) – (11).

Ha Joon Chang, a South Korean economist who teaches in the US, wrote in his book ’23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism’ that one IMF study found inflation does not negatively affect economic growth or living standards until it reaches 8% - and that some other studies put the figure at 20% (12).

Of course that doesn’t mean unlimited amounts of money could be issued each year, nor that an eye wouldn’t have to be kept on the effects on inflation. But Corbyn has never suggested printing unlimited amounts of money. The plan is to issue money and invest it in ways that will lead to increased economic growth and so increased tax revenues. That would reduce our national debt, not increase it. This is, as the plans critics would say “basic economics”.

It’s also worth remembering that all the New Labour politicians criticising Corbyn and claiming knowledge of economics backed the deregulation policies New Labour adopted from the Conservatives, which led to the banking crisis, the worst economic disaster for the UK since the 1930s. And that that crisis led to Labour losing voters’ trust on the economy and the two elections since it. Taking their advice on economics would be a bit like taking advice on how to prevent fires from an arsonist.

(1) = Tax Research UK 03 Aug 2015 ‘Chris Leslie has got Corbynomics wrong’, http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/08/03/chris-leslie-has-got-corbynomics-wrong/

(2) = Scotsman 13 Aug 2015 ‘Jack Straw adds voice to anti-Jeremy Corbyn chorus’, http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/jack-straw-adds-voice-to-anti-jeremy-corbyn-chorus-1-3858368

(3) = www.guardian.co.uk 12 Aug 2015 ‘Yvette Cooper says Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn's policies not credible or radical’, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/13/yvette-cooper-jeremy-corbyn-policies-not-credible-labour

(4) = Guardian 03 Aug 2015 ‘Jeremy Corbyn to unveil public investment plan to end austerity’, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/02/corbyn-vision-2020-end-austerity-public-investment-plan?INTCMP=sfl

(5) = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Keen

(6) = https://twitter.com/profstevekeen/status/629411010542223360

(7) = Guardian 27 Jul 2015 ‘Joseph Stiglitz: unsurprising Jeremy Corbyn is a Labour leadership contender’, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/26/joseph-stiglitz-jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-contender-anti-austerity

(8) = CNBC 18 Aug 2015 ‘‘People’s QE?’ Left-wing leader’s plans for the UK’,
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/18/peoples-qe-left-wing-leaders-plans-for-the-uk.html

(9) = FT Alphaville blog 06 Aug 2015 ‘ Corbyn’s Peoples’ QE could actually be a decent idea’,
http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2015/08/06/2136475/corbyns-peoples-qe-could-actually-be-a-decent-idea/?Authorised=false

(10) = BBC News 30 Jun 2015 ‘UK's economic growth revised up’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33323999

(11) = BBC News 15 Jul 2015 ‘UK unemployment rises for first time in two years’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33535114

(12) = Ha Joon Chang (2010) ‘23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism’, Penguin / Allen Lane, London, 2010, ‘Thing 6’, page 55 of Allen Lane hardback edition