What they live, what they dream, what they find
Miguel Ángel Velasco cmf
Claretian Team at the UN Team, member
The refugee and migrant matter is a complicated question, and it is not easy to give a simplistic solution. Perhaps, a long time ago, we could provide a local solution because the relationship between different human groups was merely local, even between two tribes or City-States, but this was a long time ago. We can consider that this is an obvious thing, but today it doesn’t seem easy to understand that the Westphalian regime was decided for a different era. We live in a world a more and more globalized world where borders are surpassed by TV, films, Universities, business, commerce, tourism, wars, and so many more things, globally. The “suit is too small” for our interconnected world. People know, or have a general idea, about other places on the planet that would have been impossible until a few years ago and, these people, sometimes seek an alternative and better place to live. The flow of people is a more and more common phenomenon and with an increase in number. We need to design a new suit for our world, for migrants and refugees, thinking of them as precious human beings from the world, and for the world. But we need to think about the design of this new world; Open Regional Organizations are the correct way to talk about the different possibilities from the grassroots, but we need to build a strong political structure in every zone of the world, and also, we have to think about the world as a whole. For this last aim, and also to be the catalyst, we need a renewed United Nations.
The harsh reality: from documents to real life
In theory, it is easy to understand the difference between migrants and refugees in the grassroots; in practice, the difference is not so straightforward. There are clear definitions and explanations about it, but the reality is not so obvious. There is, considering each case of recognition of refugee status, somebody who has to decide if the reason that the person gives is enough to give it to him. The problem comes after the acceptance of refugee status; if the refugee has enough money or especially if he is rich, there will be no problem, but if the refugee has no means, we are not sure if he will receive the care written on the international treaties. Sometimes, both migrants and refugees are very close in their situation, but with one exception: if you have refugee status, it is easier for you to enter another state; once again, it will be even more comfortable if you are rich. From this moment, I am only going to use only the term “migrant” but referring to migrants and refugees together.
The reasons for migration are numerous, but the core is only one: they are looking for a better life. To decide to leave the place where you were born, it is necessary to know a different location for living better. War, political persecutions, semi-slavery, floods, droughts, and climate disasters, are reasons enough for going out of your country. Still, they have to know these alternatives because they know something about other places to live better. They can go to live in a neighboring country, perhaps living in a refugee camp, or they can decide to go further through dangerous ways and, maybe, pay high amounts of money to smugglers or even sometimes paying to become victims of human traffic. Apart from these causes, there is a terrible problem in some parts of developing countries or even under developing zones: the people have no possibility of finding a job, even if we are talking about an informal economy, that is the standard economy, in these countries. We should fix our analysis in two main areas: the situation in the zone where migrants come from and the conditions and possibilities that recipient nations offer. We should look to change the country of origin´s way of life and also in the destination country´s situation; perhaps we should think about how to transform the entire global social-economic system.
Migrants imagine a land where they can live better, sometimes just where they can keep their lives. This massive amount of young or young-adult people or mothers with newborn children, of course, would have preferred to remain in their country, but they are seeking something like paradise or “El Dorado” and that gives them the strength to go abroad. But what kind of life is waiting for them in the new country? In the majority of cases, the new situation is not something similar to “The Paradise.” They usually don’t know the new national language, and it is difficult for them to understand the new country´s way of life, even if, in this new land, everything was prepared to receive them as well as possible. Official documents, signed by most countries in the world, say that both, country of origin and recipient country, recognize that they are human beings, so they have to be treated following Human rights. So, the recipient country has to think about the reception point for the migrants, and how to inform them about their new country’s possibilities. This new country has to provide them with medical care, education, a chance to find a job, and, especially, a correct way for social integration. But this is not possible nor a real situation. We can say that these rights are only for refugees but not for migrants, but it is so easy not to consider the reasons given by true refugees and considerer them as mere migrants without rights! Because everything depends on the recipient country’s interpretation of the treaty. It is necessary to find an international organization to analyze cases and resolve conflict situations independently. Regional organizations and the UN should be the right solution.
We can add another problem with these human beings. Sometimes, people are used as a human shield in wars or as weapons in other cases. I can present two issues for your consideration. Occidental Sahara was a Spanish colony; it was February 26, 1976, when Spain left this territory; that night, the Moroccan Army entered the region; but almost at the same time, the “Frente Polisario” proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). In 1985, the UN concluded that it was necessary to hold a referendum on this land’s self-determination, creating the SADR independence. Morocco was against this referendum because it considered the Sahara part of its country. Why does the number of migrants from Africa (especially Morocco) to Spain increase when any person in the Spanish Government talks about Occidental Sahara supporting the referendum? The relationship between Turkey and the EU is another example. Turkey opens the EU’s borders to the Iraqi migrants (I am sorry they have to be considered refugees) when there are economic or political troubles. Southern and Eastern Europe’s boundaries are full of examples, but there are many more problematic places and situations worldwide. We could give more examples. Russia is an expert in using small wars to create displacements of migrants to force some agreements. And also, throughout history, different countries used their citizens to colonize some areas of other countries looking to claim these territories before; I do not want to write the concrete names of some of these countries. We are in XXI Century; we are not in XVII Century; we have to walk towards the future; we need regional and global governances.