EU’s policy myopia
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted on Monday that the UN Security Council (UNSC) was failing Syria because of divisions among the world’s major powers. Ban Ki-moon said that nations should “look beyond national interest” and stop blocking UNSC action on the conflict in Syria, referring to China and Russia, although he did not mention them by name. What’s more disturbing are reports that UN-led humanitarian agencies are on the verge of bankruptcy. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, among others, are unable to meet the basic needs of millions of people due to the sheer scale of the refugee crisis in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Both Lebanon and Jordan, which have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis emanating out of Syria, are battling a shortage in food items and medicines. The consequent migration into Europe is a result of their inability to take in more refugees. The shortfall in humanitarian aid, according to a UN report in July, amounts to a staggering $3.5 billion. The report goes on to state that of the $4.5 billion needed for the programs to be implemented, just over $1 billion has been received. “This massive crisis requires far more solidarity and responsibility-sharing from the international community than what we have seen so far,” António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees said. “But instead, we are so dangerously low on funding that we risk not being able to meet even the most basic survival needs of millions of people over the coming six months.” Such desperation could have been avoided if western powers had paid more attention to the refugee crisis, instead of spending billions bombing the country. For the uninitiated, the biggest driver of the current refugee crisis is Syria. Four million people, nearly a fifth of Syria’s population, have fled the country since the war began in 2011.
Europe’s response to the crisis was slow. However, it is beginning to pick up the pace. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Monday that the UK will resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. Meanwhile, the German government has decided to spend an extra 6 billion Euros on tackling this year’s record influx of refugees. Despite the inflow of government aid for the refugee crisis, Eu nations continue to suffer from policy myopia in <g data-gr-id="31">adressing</g> measures to tackle the ongoing civil strife in Syria. On Monday, French President Francois Hollande said that his government will conduct reconnaissance flights over Syria to determine whether further air strikes are required against the Islamic State. Hollande blames the Islamic State for the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, conveniently forgetting the role European governments have played. It is safe to suggest that if certain member nations of the European Union did not support the United States in starting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bombarding Libya and supporting the overthrow of Assad in Syria, the continent would have never witnessed such an influx of refugees. It is not to definitively argue that they are primarily responsible for the influx. Moreover, if European countries had sought serious solutions to political conflicts like the one in Syria, and dedicated enough time and resources to humanitarian assistance abroad, the EU would not be in such a position today. Given a choice, many Syrian refugees would have decided to stay on in their home country. However, they were given no choice but to leave in search for a better life.