Who you’re demonizing when you demonize refugees

Yasmeen Mohammed, 11, from Eastern Ghouta (Muhammed Muheisen:AP) Mar 25 2016

Just so we’re all clear on who is being demonized by opponents of refugee rights to asylum: about half of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees are children. This is 11-year-old Yasmeen Mohammed from Eastern Ghouta in Syria, now living in a refugee camp near the Jordanian city of Mafraq. Yasmeen said, “All I want is to go back to my school in Syria & see my friends.’”

The Jordanian monarchy is hardly a model for refugee rights since it denies asylum to all Palestinians fleeing Syria & has now partially closed the borders to Syrians. But with a population of 8 million people, it had taken in nearly 630,000 Syrian refugees as of October 2015. According to the European Union’s own figures, in a population of 508 million, EU countries received just over one million asylum applications but of course many were declined, many have been deported, refugee camps have been forcibly dismantled & residents made homeless. How many the EU has actually accepted is uncertain but some reports claim it is less than the country of Jordan.

According to UN refugee agencies, there are more than 43 million refugees today–over 15 million had to flee their home countries & another 27 million are displaced within their own homelands. More than two-thirds of the world’s refugees have been in exile over five years, most with no end in sight. Palestinians (an estimated 5 million) have been refugees for 68 years. There are also millions of Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, Congolese, Sudanese, Rohingya from Myanmar, Colombians fleeing war, persecution, ethnic cleansing.

Actually, the UN figures are conservative since one has to register with the UN to be counted. Tens of thousands fall outside official UN designations & receive no assistance. And of course, those fleeing sweatshop economics or land expropriations orchestrated by the IMF & World Bank are considered “economic migrants,” are denied any rights at all, & are seen as undocumented invaders.

This is the world according to neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders. We stand with little Yasmeen, not with racism, ethnic cleansing, & war.

(Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)