REFUGEE DECADE POLICIES DEVELOPED SOLUTIONS THAT ARE UNKNOWN OR FORGOTTEN
Jim Purcell gave permission for me to write this brief post today. I am responsible for the opinions I express.
One of the many key protocols of crises--in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, USSR and South Asia--was safe regional asylum for refugees that made it from points of danger.
SAFE ASYLUM IN THE REGION
News today indicates that there has been no American or international planning for the Syrian refugee crisis. This fact stands in dark, glaring contrast to the enlightened global planning early in the Refugee Decade of the 1980s. Today, refugee help and problem-solving happen in the worst way. Panic, fear, and frustration drive flight and the ad hoc attempts by governments pressured to help. The ad hoc attempts now include punitive or military reaction. Where is evidence of foresight and consideration of unanticipated consequences? The effects of such confusion will rebound for generations. The U.S. could lead, but follows the same European approach--indecision. At home, some congressional leaders are proposing that the U.S. take as many as we can, thinking that when all is better those helped will return home, which would be unlikely.
Such reactions without thought for rational planning completely ignore the first solutions needed: seek to save and protect refugees; then, arrange for safe asylum in their home region.
As photos above and below clearly show, one country in the region, with similar cultural and religious traditions, is Saudi Arabia, ready to provide asylum. The tents are air conditioned and clothing and other support are on stand-by. Many of the tents are being used to house refugees now, from Syria. Why are not regional asylum options being used first? There was no preparation to steer refugees to temporary help close at hand.
What is needed, in my view, is public outcry for revival and adaptation of protocols and methods already proven to work. They were not easy to find or implement; yet, they avoided the mass confusion that continues, five years on, regarding Syrian refugees.
|MILES OF ASYLUM (AIR CONDITIONED) TENTS AWAIT MILLIONS OF REFUGEES - photo Akram S. Abahre|
Reaction without rational planning completely ignores the first solutions once a refugee crisis erupts: seek to protect human life and arrange safe asylum in the home region. For Syrian refugees, this would include preparations made by regional countries like Saudi Arabia. Jordan has been involved in asylum almost since the beginning of this crisis.
Jean P. Purcell
The writer is a co-editor for Jim Purcell's book, Hope of the Phoenix: how three presidents saved millions of refugee lives in a conflicted world.