It is about time to have an honest conversation about migration

In the wake of the European summit on migration, it is time to debunk myths and speak out some truths.

A spectre is haunting Europe. This time it is fear of hordes of dark skinned people swamping its shores. Often it is the Muslim within and without whose alien culture is about to threaten Christian Europe. The so called ‘populist’ movements have become a euphemism for right wing nationalist political movements who are setting the xenophobic political agenda.

In June we marked 25 years of refugee crisis with a salutary reminder that at its most conservative 34,361 migrants and refugees died trying to reach Europe. Many more have drowned and many scorched to death trying to cross the Sahara. They will remain uncounted with no memorials.

Following the two day European summit to resolve the migration crisis towards the end of June, the Evening Standard editorial addressed some of the issues on 29 of June. However the arguments put forward reinforced some of the myths that are widespread.

Firstly, to argue that migration is driven by rapidly increasing population in Africa is to succumb to a long held Malthusian myth of population as the main driver of social ills. The truth is that globalisation over the last thirty years as a means for greater prosperity has in fact increased poverty across Africa. Research carried out by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative showed that across the 24 Sub-Saharan African countries, about 200 million people were destitute in 2014. The imposition of Structural Adjustment Programmes by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on African countries enforcing economic liberalisation, free trade and privatisation to service debt increased poverty and inequality.

It is popular to argue that generous benefits are attracting migrants to Europe, more so now because of access to social media and mobile phones in Africa which show how better life is in Europe. Researchers who gathered information over 1000 interviews with migrants and refugees found that there was no evidence to support this view. Claims are often made by many politicians that most refugees are economic migrants. Another survey of migrants showed that only 20 percent leave there countries for Europe for economic reasons. The majority of migrants who reach European shores are fleeing wars, violence and persecution.

The US declaration of the generational global war on terror following September 11 was a turning point. Beginning with Afghanistan in 2001, moving to Iraq in 2003, then to Libya in 2011 and followed by Syria, the war involved direct invasions, ensuing counterinsurgencies and proxy wars. As in other modern wars, bombing and airstrikes were the major cause of internal displacement and cross-border refugees. Further afield, the civil war in Southern Sudan, the ongoing war on terrorism in Somalia, the war in Yemen, the repression in Eritrea, the war on terrorism in the Sahel including Nigeria have all contributed to producing refugees. Of the 62.5 million refugees 85 percent find shelter in their neighbourhood and 57 percent of all the refugees come from three countries, Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan.

The other myth that has been promoted has been that Europe has a liberal migration policy. Frontex, the European Border and Coastguard Agency was set up in 2005 and its mandate was reinforced in 2016 in the wake of the 2015 migration crisis. It has enormous powers to intercept, control and deport migrants without any regard for their human rights. The conditions in the existing refugee camps are inhumane, cramped, and insecure leading to trauma amongst refugees.

The political fault lines that were there much earlier widened across Europe with the 2015 migration crisis. The courage of Merkel to open German borders nearly a million fleeing Syrian refugees in 2015 should never be forgotten. Other politicians in Europe began building fences. Viktor Orban Prime Minister of Hungary led the charge proclaiming himself as the defender of Hungary and Europe against Muslim migrants. East European leaders of Austria and the Visegrad four, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia have all taken his anti-immigrant politics. Since then, she has been under attack in Germany and across Europe. The rise of the AFD in Germany poses a threat to the centre and left in Germany. The refusal by Matteo Salvini the Interior minister in the populist Italian government to allow MV Aquarius carrying over 600 African refugees to dock in an Italy port was historic and equally a portent.

The migration agreement reached by EU leaders after 12 hours of night long acerbic talks was a compromise to contain the tensions within the EU. One of key proposals is screening migrants for their eligibility to apply for asylum before they reach the EU. Countries in North Africa and the Middle East would be offered EU financial aid in exchange for agreeing to set up screening centres. This is a deeply worrying extension of the outsourcing of refugees that is currently in place in Libya and Turkey.

In Libya, thousands of refugees and migrants are currently detained in camps where they suffer torture and other ill-treatment and arbitrary detention in appalling conditions, extortion, forced labour and killings at the hands of Libyan officials, militias and smugglers. Amnesty International’s findings reveal how member states of EU – and Italy in particular – have pursued their own goal of restricting the flow of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean by outsourcing using financial incentives with the slightest concern for the vulnerable people.

In creating a hostile environment for refugees and migrants, there is a growing tendency to use laws that are directed at people traffickers and smugglers to harass humanitarian organisations and individuals who are trying to save lives and support vulnerable refugees. Hungary is again at the forefront of enacting laws whereby individuals and organisations providing advice and assistance to asylum seekers could on conviction face imprisonment of one year and a tax of 25% respectively.

Policies have consequences in determining who lives and who dies. Europe can change its policies to address the concerns of the electorates and win over a new political consensus. The populist narrative must be challenged. The public needs to be persuaded that Europe can manage migration if all government work together to develop effective asylum systems. This would include honest explanation of the benefits and challenges of migration, making legal migration a credible prospect, creating a system of proper integration, and creating a system for the safe return of rejected asylum seekers. If voters understand that most people who flee their homes are hosted in developing countries and Europeans need to do their bit, they might take pride in the reduction of human suffering.

In the longer term the root causes of migration must be dealt with. The wars and conflicts should be brought to an end with systematic conflict resolution. The economic policies of the highly developed Western countries must be changed to allow the transformation of underdeveloped African countries to meet the material needs of their people for jobs, homes, food, education and health.

A response to Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands on Iran- what the US must do to bring peace and stability to the Middle East

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state who set out 12 demands on Iran in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, in Washington D.C. on Monday, 21 May 2018. It is urgent that the unending wars and destruction in the Middle East are brought to an end for the sake of its peoples, their right to life and security. The US is a paramount military power in the Middle East and it should carry out its moral responsibilities by doing the following:

1) Deal with the issue of nuclear proliferation honestly and equitably by including Israel in the process of denuclearisation. Ensure that both Israel and Iran provide an unqualified access to all nuclear sites through their respective countries to the IAEA. Supervise the denuclearisation of the region by removing the shadow of nuclear threat hanging over the people of the Middle East.

2) Prevail on Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza and abandoning its policy of violence against unarmed Palestinian civilians. Prevent the establishment of new settlements on occupied Palestinian land and help end all the administrative laws that choke Palestinian lives. Ensure that Israel releases all political prisoners. Bring all parties including Hamas together to establish peace by an equitable and just settlement for Palestinians which ensures the security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

3) Restore the US funding to UNRWA which provides the basic needs of millions of Palestinian refugees in the neighbouring countries. Seek in collaboration with the regional powers a long term solution for to address the needs of these refugees for homes, food, health and education and their return to their homeland.

4) Ensure the security and integrity of Lebanon and stop Israel from violating its air space. Recognise that Hezbollah is a legitimate political force with historical roots in Lebanon and involve it in establishing peace in the area. Bring Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran together to ensure political stability and security in Lebanon.

5) Abandon the policy of regime change in Syria. Work with Russia and other regional powers for a political solution to the Syrian conflict. Stop the Saudi and Gulf states arming and supporting proxy groups and ISIS in Syria. Respect the integrity of Syria and stop any break up of its territory. With the other regional powers, Russia and the European Union, set up a mechanism for the reconstruction of Syria and for Syrian refugees to return home in the coming decade.

6) Prevail on Turkey to stop its occupation of the Kurdish region in the North of Syria and oppose any ethnic cleansing of the towns and villages of its Kurdish population. Recognise the aspirations of the Kurdish people as legitimate and urge Turkey to release all political prisoners in particular, the leader of the Kurdish people Abdullah Öcalan. Assist Turkey to find a political solution which is inclusive of its Kurdish citizens.

7) After the defeat of ISIS, take urgent steps with the Iraqi government to reconstruct the destroyed villages, towns and cities of Iraq with the use of the receipts from Iraq’s oil exports. Support the Iraqi government to build its non oil economic sectors, infrastructure, health and education systems. Stop the political fragmentation of Iraq and end the occupation of Iraq.

8) Bring an end to the conflict in Afghanistan since its invasion and occupation in 2001 by declaring ceasefire and agreeing a peace process with all parties including Taliban and the regional neighbours of Afghanistan such as Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia and China.

9) Prevail on its allies in the Gulf Coalition to stop the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade of Yemen to enable humanitarian aid to reach quickly to millions who need it. Ensure that a ceasefire is established and set up a process to bring all parties to reach a political solution leading to the withdrawal of foreign forces. Help with the regional powers to reconstruct Yemen’s destroyed infrastructure and economy.

10) Understand the anxieties and fears of Iran in terms of its national security. Stop demonising Iran and recognise it as a regional power which has legitimate security interests. Lift all sanctions on Iran and let the Iranian economy have full access to the world market. Involve Iran with the other regional powers such as Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and Egypt to secure peace and stability in the region

11) Prevail on Egypt to stop attacking peaceful protestors and release political prisoners and allow the freedom of expression and association for the opposition. Ensure that there is freedom from torture and security force violence in Egypt. Work towards restoring political freedoms in Egypt.

12) Work with the UN, Europe, Egypt and other relevant regional countries to implement UN plan to reconcile the different factions Libya to establish a unified democratic government in Libya. Help with the reconstruction of Libya’s infrastructure and economy.

Continue reading A response to Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands on Iran- what the US must do to bring peace and stability to the Middle East

Submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry, with Sue Lukes

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SUBMISSION BY LIZ DAVIES AND SUE LUKES

About the authors

 

We are Labour Party members. Liz was an active member between 1979 and 2001, serving eight years as an elected Labour councilor in the London Borough of Islington, and two years as an elected constituency representative on the Party’s National Executive Committee. She left the Labour Party in 2001 but rejoined in 2015 following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader. She is a member of Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP. Sue has been a member of Islington North CLP since 1982 and has held many offices in her ward, Highbury East: she is currently vice chair and GC delegate.

Sue is Jewish and on the board of trustees of her local synagogue, Kehillah North London.  She has campaigned and worked against anti semitism and other forms of racism for many years, partly inspired by her family story: her father…

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HOW TO DISMANTLE THE NHS IN 10 EASY STEPS

youssefelgingihy

 

HOW TO DISMANTLE THE NHS IN 10 EASY STEPS by DR YOUSSEF EL-GINGIHY – The story of how your NHS was sold off to private healthcare & why you’ll have to buy insurance soon – PUBLISHED BY ZERO BOOKS

http://www.zero-books.net/books/how-dismantle-nhs-10-easy-steps

Over the past 30 years, the NHS has been insidiously converted into a market-based healthcare system. This process is accelerating under the Coalition government and the very existence of a National Health Service is in danger. How did it ever come to this for Great Britain’s most cherished institution?

1)      Create an internal market

Speaking at the 60th anniversary of the NHS in 2008, Kenneth Clarke remarked that “In the late 1980s I would have said it is politically impossible [to do what we are now doing.]”It being the conversion of the NHS into a market-based system. After 30 years of neoliberalism, the impossible has become…

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COTTON FOR MY SHROUD (India 2011 75 min) – 26 May 2015 – plus ‘Damned’ 27/5/15 and ‘Candles in the Wind’ 28/5/15

trinketization

You are invited to a unique free screening of this award-winning film, together with a Q&A session with the directors, Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl with John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.

Tuesday 26th of May 2015

Doors open at 7.00 Screening at 7.15 and the programme finishes at 9.30pm

First Floor, Conference Centre, Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln Inn Field, London WC2A 3LJ

Book your place with Eventbrite

Watch the trailer here

This is a story about cotton farmers in the Vidarbha region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The film investigates how Monsanto, in collusion with the government and politicians, promoted genetically modified Bt Cotton field trials amongst farmers. This was accompanied by propaganda about high yields and reduction in pesticide use.

Vulnerable farmers were enticed to take out loans in order to pay for the GM seeds and the exorbitant prices of pesticides and fertilisers…

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Politicised Adverts?

TheCritique Archives

by Martin Odoni

I was out driving in south Manchester yesterday, when I saw some notice-boards that caught my eye for having letters deliberately missing from them. At first I did not recognise the boards’ meaning, as I was trying to concentrate on driving, and the missing letters were not helping. But I then had to stop at some traffic lights, and so I took the opportunity to have a closer look. The first one read, roughly; –

Spr_ins and gr_zes. Do not need A&E.

There was an ‘NHS’ logo in the top-right corner.

The second board read, roughly; –

S_re Thr_at? Won’t need A&E.

And there was the logo again.

Now call me ‘Old Mr. Paranoid’, but somehow that logo did not convince me completely that the National Health Service itself was where this sentiment originated. There is no doubt whatever that Accident & Emergency services are in a…

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