April 22, 2015 - 09:12 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Wealthy countries should agree on a comprehensive plan to take one million refugees from Syria over the next five years to end the unfolding series of boat disasters in the Mediterranean, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has urged.
In a Guardian interview, François Crépeau said Europe was creating a market for people smugglers by failing to act on Syria. He said his plan could be extended to seven years or widened to include other nationalities, including Eritreans who have been fleeing war.
“We know a great number of Syrians in particular are going to leave these countries and if we don’t provide any official mechanism for them to do so, they will resort to smugglers. The inaction of Europe is actually what creates the market for smugglers,” said Crépeau, a law professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
“We could collectively offer to resettle one million Syrians over the next five years. For a country like the UK, this would probably be around 14,000 Syrians a year for five years. For Canada, it would mean less than 9,000 a year for five years – a drop in the bucket. For Australia, it would probably be less than 5,000 per year for five years. We can manage that.”
Britain has given £700m in humanitarian aid but agreed to settle only 143 Syrian refugees. The U.S. has a similar record.
Crépeau said the west had to acknowledge the refugees were “stuck in a place where there’s no future for themselves or their children” and had to change policy, according to the Guardian.
“This is going to be a long-term commitment and we should go at it together. It’s a much better system for everyone – you reduce the number of deaths, you reduce the smuggling business model, and you reduce the cost of asylum claims.”
The plan could allow Syrian refugees to apply from places such as Istanbul, Amman and Beirut to come to Europe, North America and Australia “for a meaningful chance to resettle, instead of paying thousands of euros to only die with their children in the Mediterranean”.
Crépeau also defended “economic migrants”, many who try to come to Europe and developed countries from sub-Saharan Africa. They were “people who may not be in need of protection but are desperate for a future because there’s no job for them anywhere near their country”.
Instead of resisting mobility, countries had to organize it, Crépeau said. That meant taking action on poor working conditions and tackling the underground labor market.
Crépeau suggested a seasonal entry visa that would allow low-skilled migrants to enter the country for a certain number of months for a number of consecutive years. If the migrant didn’t find work in the first four months, they would return home and try again the next year.
“If you create mechanisms that incentivise people, you would not have underground immigration to such an extent that you have,” Crépeau said.
“Let’s not be afraid of mobility. Mobility is exactly what we need.”