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Asylum seekers: handing out the mops

2015-08-13 18:14:00

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Over a thousand refugees in Kos were locked overnight (Tuesday) in a stadium, after riot police struggled to contain crowds of recent migrant arrivals who were rounded up in recent days from makeshift camps around the Greek island. Several of the refugees, mostly Syrian and Afghan, fainted due to heatstroke and one had an epileptic seizure.

But, as these reports reached us, with Kos taking the brunt of the migrant "surge" after the failure of Cold War-style fencing on the mainland, an even greater irony is emerging.

Reeling under the "onslaught" of 180,000 asylum applications in the first half of this year, overstretched local authorities are resorting to desperate measures. The city of Bochum is to open a migrant centre in a cemetery and, according to Der Spiegel magazine, officials in Augsburg and Schwerte are considering housing migrants in former Nazi concentration camps.

Doubtless, there are many who would want to go further, and reactivate the gas chambers and ovens, as a more efficient means to disposing of unwanted "sub-humans". This, they would aver, is so much better than shooting them on the beaches or clubbing them like baby seals as they land, or sinking their boats and letting them drown - very much the preferred option for some.

Meanwhile, the legacy media continues to display its near-total inability to report credibly on the growing crisis, as journalists still describe asylum seekers as "illegal immigrants", thereby mischaracterising the entire situation.

Politicians are no better but even German officials seem to struggling to understand what they are dealing with. According to the Times, the head of the German police union has called for the re-introduction of internal border controls, "abolished under the Schengen agreement in 1995", as his idea of stemming the flow of irregular migrants into Germany.

Notwithstanding that the porous land border with Austria could hardly be sealed, thus enabling document checks to be made, this official misses the point. The Schengen acquis, embedded in the main EU treaties since Amsterdam, deals only with procedures, not rights.

Without Schengen and with immigration officials manning the newly-reinstated border (and a new fence built to prevent unofficial entry this replicating the "iron curtain" fencing), all that would happen is that the incoming migrants would demand asylum as they were confronted by border officials. Then as now, Germany would be required to process their applications.

As part of the outcome of any application, the processing authorities are required under the 1951 Convention to supply each recognised refugee with a "Convention Travel Document". This was known previously as the "Nansen passport" - an identity document for refugees devised by the first Commissioner for Refugees, Fridtjof Nansen, in 1922. And this, of course, would allow free movement under the Schengen system.

In other words, once again and consistently, the entire weight of media, politicians and officialdom are failing to grasp the single, central issue that is the root cause of this migrant crisis. As long as the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol exist, this constitutes a gilt-edged invitation to the poor and dispossessed of the world to come and stay in our territories.

Until we are prepared to recognise this, and deal with it, asylum seeker policy is going nowhere. We are figuratively in the position of trying to mop up the flooded floor from an overflowing bath, without first turning off the tap.

The problem we have is the serried ranks in the public domain are wilfully ignoring the tap, their policy response being simply to hand out more mops. Sooner or later, the mop-holders will rebel.