To Our European/British/etc Members

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Lil, Sep 16, 2015.

  1. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I am curious, and I know we can't get political, so PLEASE everyone remember that, but what is the general feeling in your part of the world about the influx of refugees from Syria and other Middle-Eastern countries? Here in the US, we don't really get any word on what your people, who are much closer to the situation, think about it. I DO know that there is a large segment of the US populous who feel it is more of an invasion than a migration...that there is some underlying plan to get large numbers of Muslim people to non-Muslim countries and basically win a war of attrition...wearing down other countries by demanding more and more freedom of religion until they simply take over. Now, I consider that borderline conspiracy theory nonsense...but the fear is there for a lot of folks, not to mention the fear that jihadists will simply "blend in" with the other migrants and cross the borders undetected. The argument is: Why don't they go to other Middle-Eastern countries that are not war-torn like Saudi Arabia? Why aren't they staying the Turkey? Why are they going to Europe?

    We're thousands of miles away - so I'm just curious what Europeans are thinking about it?

    Really, my biggest concern, other than for the horrible conditions these people endure, is that it must be a terrible strain on public services in general, the sudden influx of people!
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    This is controversial topic in my country. And in most I know about. Though worries around here are less about them overcoming us and more about certain type of criminality and cultural differences. Mostly about how women role in society is seen and sex crime. There is no denying it, immigrants from certain countries commit over 20 times more rapes than ethnic locals or immigrants from western countries.

    People also question why 80 % of asylum seekers coming here are young men and as you asked, why they do not stay closer and in Muslim countries. Of course Saudi Arabia refuses to take refugees for their own reasons and in Turkey there are already so many that situation in camps starts to be unbearable.

    We are in tough spot with our economy so that adds to the debate. Establishment has taken a strong view we have to do our part, Church has taken a strong stand reminded us that if we consider ourselves Christians, we are obliged to house and feed strangers coming to us. Church has also given lots of their premises to house refugees coming in, because we get as many asylum seekers a week we usually get in much longer time so all the places we usually lodge them are more than full.

    It is in fact quite divided right now. There are lot of really loud people who feel we are giving our country away and then there are much bigger (but little less loud) group of people, who consider we have no right not to help. For example all the places that take clothes, toys etc. to give to asylum seekers are so full, that they can not take more.

    Fulfilling your duty is very strong Lutheran legacy that is so deep in core of our culture, that for most it would be impossible to explain ourselves how we would have right to turn our backs to people in need.

    EDIT: I may need to explain a Church part little more. let's put it this way. We tend to be very secular people. We only go to Church for funerals, weddings and at Christmas, but we do have a strong Lutheran church with very wide membership. Every time we end up trouble, we still turn for Church for help and console. And when our archbishop tells us something, especially that we are in wrong and scolds us, few really dare to argue. Church usually doesn't get involved in politics in any way, mixing religion and politics is considered to be bad taste and Church teaches us that worldly things should be resolved with our reason and conscience and not involve religious arguments or Bible, but when it does remind us about something, we still sit down and listen.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  3. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Thank you. I love being able to talk with someone from a different country and find out their perspective, especially when it involves them more than our country. The US is very divided right now and though I believe the administration have agreed to take 10,000 - barely a drop in the bucket - even that is being viewed very negatively by many. Of course, there is a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment...which I understand, but still find sad in a country built on religious freedom.
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    We are currently getting that a week, more or less, and we are small country far away from more attractive destinations.

    They are estimating Germany alone will have 1 000 000 asylum seekers this year.
  5. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I know! It's a shocking number. I just looked it up and the population of Germany is less than 83 million people. That means that one out of every 84 people will be from this influx of migrants!

    How do you deal with your population growing that much virtually overnight? Not to mention that many people who probably have limited grasp of the language, no jobs, no money, etc.?
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    That is a good question isn't it?

    While as I said we have far less people coming in than Germany, there is of course much less of us. Every place we do have for lodging newcomers is full and currently we are fervently opening new places. And before those we do lodge them to floors of mostly church buildings, many universities are giving their sport facilities for this and places like that. And also many people have invited asylum seekers to temporarily reside in their homes.
    A new asylum seeker costs about 45 dollars a day for our government.

    Long term will be challenging. After they either get permission to stay or are sent off (there are quite a few people coming also from areas of Iraq that our government considers safe, those are sent back home if they can show why they would need asylum. Most of asylum seekers in my country actually are Iraqi, not Syrian, but most from those parts of Iraq our government considers unsafe. We do not have existing established Syrian community, so Syrians actually prefer other countries that already have Syrian community waiting them) it will be time to start to house them more permanently. unfortunately areas they would most likely want to live in are having shortage of available housing and areas that have amble housing have less opportunities for them.

    And none certainly talk a word of our language so there will be that first. Kids of course will need one year quite expensive preparatory teaching before they can be expected to manage in our schools and even then their special needs will need to be taken into account (basically first they will likely need an aide and even later children whose first language is not classroom language are taken into account in allowed Teacher/student ratio. While government pays those extra costs and not counties and towns themselves, they do need more room for more groups.

    Adults after they get permission to stay are entitled to same benefits as everyone else. Some live with those, some are able to find work, traditionally many start small businesses (I can't remember when I have last time eaten in pizzeria with ethnic local owner, they are all own owned by middle eastern people.)

    There has been great differences between people coming from different parts of world and how they have done. Vietnamese were almost all success stories, also Kosovo Albanians have mostly done very well. Somalians have struggled a lot (both unemployment and crime are big issues) while Nigerian and Kurdish have done much better and so on.

    Social integration will be a huge challenge and something we did not hope during tough financial times like what we have now. But they are here, they are cold, hungry and have no roof over their head and we can't turn our backs to them so we just have to come up solutions to make it happen as smoothly as possible. We can't give up of our values and morals just because there is lots of them and becuase it will be a struggle to help them.
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Fascinating post, Lil.

    SuZir, thank you for your comments, especially regarding how your countrymen inform their thinking.

    An extraordinary conversation.

  8. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Refugees are welcome.

    Migrants are a different issue.

    Most of the footage we see on the news here is of men in their 20s and 30s. Lots of men, without their wives and children and parents. If the situation is so dangerous and dreadful in their home countries, why have they left their families behind?

    So... are they refugees? or are they migrants?

    Of course, migrants are seeking a better way of life, and I'm not saying that they shouldn't, but it's not the same as being a refugee.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    because there's more money available there, particularly money available to earn in Germany and money available from the welfare system in the UK.

    ... and again, I'm talking about migrants, not refugees.
  10. A European friend from my work was very concerned about the cuts in social benefits. The European Union has been monitored the economy of the European countries for some years after the collapse of Greece. I know that some of the countries have been force to introduce social reforms.

    Combine this with the growing number of migrants and you have dangerous cocktail of underprivileged people looking for a strong leader and a huge number of people with their own standards and culture where some are necessary to be fully committed to fit in. I would also be afraid about it could lead to.

    The worst part is that the countries are not in agreement with the strategy. They are pushing the migrants to other countries while they close their own country off. Especially the eastern part of Europe has worked hard to push the migrant towards north and west.

    My friend is from Finland and they have seen how Sweden has allowed migrants to pass through their country while Sweden has condemned countries south of them for doing the exact same thing.

    The European Union as whole could be ending in some decades if they don’t manage to agree. I hope they have some kind of system for countries trying to leave the European Union. The lack of such a system led to a lot of suffering in our country when some states tried to leave our union more than a century ago.
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  11. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Our news seems to make sure to focus on women and children. But that could be on purpose.
  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Completely agree - the power of the media, left-wing or right-wing, and carefully selected footage. Here we also have different words used - the BBC used to use 'migrants', this then morphed into 'refugees and migrants'. Left-wing journalists refer to everyne as 'refugees' whereas right-wing journalists refer to everyone as 'migrants'. I think though, the vast majority are men travelling alone. Suzir also says:

    There are also issues of religion and culture, but this isn't the place to discuss these issues.

    Some people here have been accused of double-standards. E.g. offering a spare room for a refugee family, when there are large numbers of British families living in poverty and needing a decent home.

    It's such a difficult subject. My own mother's family were migrants during the Spanish Civil War and were immigrants in this country, along with huge numbers of other people. This is also true of the US. Many people don't have to go back many generations before they find a migrant or refugee.

    You can't lump all 'Europeans' together and ask what we are thinking. We're all thinking different things, and by "all' I mean all the different countries and all the different people within those countries. To return to the Monty Python theme from several weeks ago: "Yes. We are all individuals".
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  13. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Very true. My paternal grandfather came from Germany in the late 1800's. My maternal great-grandfather came from Ireland right about the time of the potato famine. Nearly all of us are descendants of immigrants and those in the last 200 years. We tend to forget how young our country is.

    I wasn't lumping. :) I was asking all our members that are from Great Britain and Europe to tell me what, in general, is the feeling or outlook they are seeing on this. I can say that, in general (while of course it varies from person to person), there are large groups of Americans suspicious of the migrants' motives and I think the majority of the country would be really upset at the thought of thousands of refugees pouring in. I'm pretty sure the vast majority would be against allowing in a million middle-eastern refugees in, and we're a huge country, and there would be groups screaming to close the borders. I wondered if there were similar groups in your countries or if they are, in general, more welcoming. I'm also wondering how it's being handled. After all, all we get is the basics; this number of people are waiting to get in and this country or that country has closed it's borders...we don't know what the mood of the people is.
  14. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Actually, the US settles 70,000+ refugees into this country every year, most from Iraq, Afganistan, and other SE Asian countries. Most of these have to go through a vetting process before coming.

    This is in addition to legal immigration of about one million per year.
  15. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    My guess is most people don't really know the numbers. I knew there were a lot, but I wasn't aware of the numbers you are giving. Realistically, we're a huge country...we could take a million with little difficulty...but can you imagine the popular opinion of that?

    But I'm thinking of a situation like they're facing in Europe...people flooding in all at once, very little vetting process because there's no time. Heck, people were up in arms about the children from Latin American countries in 2014, though you don't hear anything about them now. But when it was happening it was all over the news and a lot of people were upset at the number...worried about the social services that would be expended...who was going to take care of them, and those were children! Adults would be worse.
  16. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    I think the vetting process is the key.

    When one part of the process breaks down, there are going to be problems.

    Even some of the unaccompanied children have turned out to be young adult men who are gang members and criminals. Not most, but some. A vetting process will weed out these people.

    People have a right to be concerned, and to petition their government for an orderly process.
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    D H came to this country with his family when he was ten. The difference between our families immigrating and an influx of refugees coming in has to do with the preparation each of our families had to make prior to entering the country. Immunizations, health status relative to contagious disease, provision for living quarters and work ~ all these things had to be in order before a family could immigrate. The danger in what seems to be happening now is that the systems in place to accomplish objectives in meaningful, orderly ways are being stressed beyond the breaking point, especially as regards cultural norms and cultural identity.

    Without the rule of law, we have no reliable way to chart our courses or to reach consensus on who we are or what we value or where we are going.

    That the majority of refugees are young males with nothing, and with nothing to protect (their families) is disturbing. We are being shown women and children or grief stricken fathers.

    Saudi Arabia has refused to take refugees. What does Saudi Arabia know about this situation that we are not being told?

    That would be an excellent question to learn the answer to.

    Why has Saudi Arabia refused to offer assistance.


    Native Americans had no option but to accept the overwhelming numbers of immigrants pouring in to what was once their land. Their numbers were decimated, their cultures denigrated and destroyed.
  18. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I've got some of that too. :) I'm such a mutt.

    You do have to consider that they were both outnumbered and technologically outclassed.
  19. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Among people coming there are many type of people from different situations. However one typical story of these youngish men coming is following: They are married men with kids. They have left their unsafe home with their families (wife, kids, parents, younger siblings etc.) and ended up to Turkey to areas where there are more refugees than locals. No jobs, no school for kids, living in tents, living from charity. Trip to Europe and through not welcoming Eastern Europe is dangerous and expensive. Survival of the fittest. Families gather everything they have to pay for human traffickers and young, fit man leaves in hopes of getting to Western or Northern Europe. If they are granted asylum, then, according the laws of many of these countries, they can ask, and are granted, permission to reunite their family. In other words their wife and kids and often other dependants are brought to a new country safely by plane, with visas and on governments dime.

    People in these camps who really are desperate and without real safety do know this very well, so for them it makes all the sense to send a young man and hope he makes it and women, children and elderly can follow more safely.

    It is a huge issue to vet out those who actually have a need for safety and those who come for other reasons.

    And while children and women are more sympathetic, one has to remember that in certain type of conflicts, and Syria is kind of like that, young men in fact are even the most vulnerable people. They are the ones whom different sides of conflict want to arms. And in conflicts like Syria there really isn't a side one would like to pick.

    There are so many sides in this coin. To be frank, very Middle Eastern type of an issue. No easy truths, nor easy rights or wrongs.
  20. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi Lil

    We just watched a really interesting programme on the BBC. An interview with the foreign minister of Hungary. I won't comment on it, but will let you form your own opinions. It's available to view on BBC i-player. Hope that's compatible with whatever you can get over there. Here's the link: