On February 8, the Australian published a full page advertisement paid for by 72 organisations calling for the evacuation of the refugee camps on Nauru and Manus Island. According to the signatories to the statement, the people in those camps should be brought immediately to Australia. Among the organisations funding the advertisement were the usual suspects such as Oxfam and Amnesty International, but others, such as ‘Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children’, ‘Love Make A Way’ or ‘Mums 4 Refugees’ were less well known. The large variety of organisations listed in the advert indicates the extent to which the Australian middle classes have taken the refugee ‘crisis’ to their hearts. Good for them, but perhaps it would have been better if they had turned their minds to the problem. Getting misty-eyed about innocent kids in detention solves nothing. As Richard II succinctly puts it, ‘That were some love, but little policy’.
There are now 65.3 million displaced people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes because of political instability or war. Of that number, 21.3 million are refugees. Unfortunately, as anyone who watches Q&A or reads the Fairfax press will tell you, most of them don’t matter all that much. The ones who really deserve our support are the suffering 15 hundred who endure appalling conditions in hell holes on Manus and Nauru.
For the 104,000 Sudanese in Kakuma camp in Kenya, or the 62,000 Afghanis in Panian camp in Pakistan, or the 72,000 Syrians in Zaatari camp in Jordan, this would be something of a surprise. The amount of money per head spent on maintaining the Australian refugee camps must exceed that spent in the UNHCR camps by a factor of ten, and yet still the incidence of self harm, suicide, and general misery in ‘our’ camps continues. Australians are either hopeless at running refugee camps or journalists are hopeless at covering the real story behind the world’s refugee crisis.
And for once the overused word ‘crisis’ is appropriate. The main cause of increases in refugee numbers in the past decade has been instability in the Islamic world. Yes, the West’s involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan has inflamed the situation, but the conflict throughout the Islamic world is essentially due to the incompatibility of Islamic thought and the modern world.
Why is it so hard for the Left to recognise that theocracies and those states where religion has a strong influence of public policy are invariably the most resistant to social change? Thus, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive cars and women in Iran are not allowed to go shopping without wearing a shroud so that men may not gaze upon them. Imagine that, girls. Throughout much of the Islamic world, the status of women is roughly akin to that of slaves in the 18th century Americas and this, according to the Mullahs, is as it should be.
Why is it so hard for the women of the Left to see that it is the millions of their sisters and children in the camps throughout Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East who are in most need of protection? It is probably no exaggeration to say that any single mother anywhere in the Middle East is considered fair game by a substantial number of her fellow countrymen. In Beirut now there is a thriving prostitution industry based on young women who have fled Syria and have no way of surviving beyond selling their bodies. There are documented cases of young girls sold into prostitution by their fathers because they are utterly destitute, and yet the 72 organisations which put their name to the ad in the Australian seem to show no interest in recognising that the Manus Island and Nauru refugees represent an infinitesimally small part of what is now a global problem, involving 65 million people.
Why is it so hard for the Left in general to see that there is no end in sight to the refugee ‘crisis’ and that it is much more likely to get worse in the immediate future? It is possible that ten years from now number of refugees and displaced people could be double the present number. Afghanistan is ungovernable, and cannot survive without support from the West. If that support is removed, then tribal warlords will again fight amongst themselves and the border with Pakistan, will again become lawless and Pakistan itself will be in danger of being sucked into the Islamic maelstrom. The fate of its 200 million inhabitants will be complicated by the fact that Pakistan has been able to develop nuclear weapons but not to create a stable and successful society.
Should Islamic fundamentalists get their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal I wonder how many of the ‘Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group’ will argue that they have as much right to nuclear weapons as anyone?
The global refugee crisis cannot be solved by the West alone and soft policies in this arena only exacerbate the problem. The Japanese in 2015 rejected 99 per cent of the applications for refugee status that it received and accepted only 27 Syrians. The Chinese could only manage to accept about 50 refugees. Chinese officials argue that the refugee problem was caused by Western arrogance and it is up to the West to sort out the mess it has created. The sort of blatant racism that started to die out in the west after WW2 is alive and well in China and Japan. Why can’t the Left see that monocultural countries such as China and Japan are so deeply racist that they have no problems at all refusing to allow desperate people from other ethnic groups to come to their shores?
Why does the British Parliament seriously debate whether or not to welcome Trump to the UK when the leaders of racist Japan and China can get state visits at the drop of a hat?
Why doesn’t the Left rail against the monumental hypocrisy of those Arab states which, despite sharing a common language and religion, refuse to accept their Muslim brothers as refugees?
We must recognise that there are no solutions to the refugee crisis within the current global political framework. There is a sort of tectonic drift in the Islamic world towards catastrophe and there is little that can be done to control the situation. We cannot tell where and when the earthquake will occur, but unless the world gets its act together, it will come. The ‘Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children’ should be encouraged to understand this.