Migration and Asylum … a “collateral cost”



The seeming surge of asylum seekers in Calais, brings to the fore the issue of migration. It is in this vein that the Politics of the right has most traction. While much of the reaction might seem xenophobic this is fairly natural as whether we like to admit it, or not, we are racist. It is natural to look on one's own race/nationality as somehow better than any other. We only need to consider the ties of family … blood is thicker than water … we have a natural affinity to our own kind. Migration can be divided into two broad categories Economic and Asylum. Economic is a natural consequence of Globalisation while Asylum is triggered mainly by destabilisation. We should, simply consider the wave of migration that follows our destabilisation of a country as a collateral cost in the same way we consider innocent lives being lost as collateral damage.


Asylum, was established as a general principle of International Law, by the Geneva Convention of 1951. It provides that we may seek asylum, wherever we choose in order to escape persecution in our home country. There is no legal obligation on that country to grant asylum, however on a moral basis, that should not be withheld except in exceptional circumstances, such as a criminal seeking asylum in order to escape justice in his own country.


In this context let us first consider the wave of asylum seekers besieging Europe at the moment.


Fundamentally these come from distinct regions … which have all been destabilised by war and civil insurrection they are in order of magnitude; Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea. We should recognise that we have played a role in destabilising most of those territories.


Our issue is that we feel that the rest of Europe should be dealing with the problem and not us. For the record here are the 2014 numbers:






















Source Eurostat 2015



I should perhaps have included Russia in the above table as anecdotally they have taken in the most migrants … particularly from the Ukraine, but these statistics are unreliable.


It is, however, clear from the above that we are by no means the most popular in Europe, and that other countries are certainly taking their share of Asylum seekers. Those seeking Asylum in the UK are probably choosing the UK for language or cultural reasons rather than economic (benefits).


In 2003 we in agreement with France moved our Border control from Dover to Calais. It is therefore our obligation to process those applications in Calais as expeditiously as possible (remember it is the Asylum seekers right to choose the country where he seeks asylum).


Let us consider whether we have a right to put those people on an aeroplane and return them to the regions from whence they came. In my mind I am doubtful that there is a moral right to deport people to countries where there is an above average risk of their lives being endangered. We happily write off, as collateral damage, innocent people being killed as a result of our military adventures. Perhaps it is time to consider the resultant migration from regions we have helped to destabilise as a collateral cost!


Undoubtedly there is a fair element of what we might call economic migration amongst the asylum seekers, and I will consider this later in a separate post

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