The right to seek protection or asylum in a rather peaceful and secure places as well as in holy places is almost as old as man himself. Though, the practice began from the time immemorial, the act was first codified in law in 600 AD in the ancient Greek and primeval Egyptian civilisations. Similar laws were implemented throughout Europe in the middle ages.
The related concept of political exile also has a long history. Such was the case of François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) who sought asylum in England from France because of his frequent religious argument for tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority and supported a constitutional monarchy that protects people’s rights.
In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia established was a new system of political order in Central Europe that was based upon the concept of co-existing sovereign states. This became central to international laws and to the prevailing world order.
It was a friendly and accommodating principle that made a citizen of one nation a virtual citizen of another sovereign state without the requirements of the immigration protocols.
Unfortunately, this policy didn’t last for too long. In the late 18th century, nationalism gained sufficient acceptance in Europe and this ultimately required people to provide identification before crossing borders.
For this reason, the Monarchy and other authorities have got reasons to justify their existence once again. Consequently, refugees were not only far degraded citizens in any other countries but are also deprived of seeking asylum from tyrannies in their original country.
So many events unfolded in the world that gave birth to new theories about humanity. The World War II is a perfect example. The war led to the creation of United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to provide aid to areas liberated from Axis powers, including parts of Europe and China.
By the end of the War, Europe had more than 40 million refugees. UNRRA was involved in returning over seven million refugees, then commonly referred to as Displaced Persons or DPs.
Immediately after the World War II, on the 20th April, 1946 the International Refugee Organization (IRO) was founded and took over the functions of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. But also couldn’t last for long.
It was then followed by the formation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also known as the UN Refugee Agency. It is a body of the UN mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself; and assists in their local integration or resettlement to a third country and at least arrange, organise and supervise their voluntary repatriation.
By 2014, Syria has assumed the centre stage of the global refugee crisis and discussions about its resolution dominated various world fora. As at February 2015, Turkey had hosted 1.7 million Syrian refugees, making it the highest host of the refugees ahead of any other country.
The war that has led to such disfiguring figures of the Syrian Refugees is thus worthy of intellectual attention. It strikes the mind why the world that hosted and rehabilitated 40 million refugees after World War II now considers the Syrian Refugees as modern “plagues” that can’t either be accommodated or assisted.
It then poses a very big challenge to the UN Refugee Agency that won Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981. Its weak response to the sufferings of the Syrian Refugees in the hands of the Asian and Western terrorists as well as hypocritical powers that are mindlessly playing with millions of innocent lives like chess pawns cannot but agitate any sane minds.
In the words of Chris Guinness during the carnage committed on the Palestinians by the Zionist State of Israel, the world truly stands disgraced.
The entire world had heaved a sigh of relief when the Israeli aggression receded, with the believe that never again shall the world experience something close to the disaster experienced during the Second World War, after Israeli carnage.
But the Syrian War has put a lie to this. No doubt, the Israeli wars on the innocent Palestinians have so far led to more than three million Palestinian refugees in different parts of the world, yet the pathetic situation in Syria seems to be dwarfing the gargantuan tragedy.
An intriguing paradox
Syria is indeed a paradox- a nation at war with itself- physically and singularly tormenting its own people. Like a chess game, the Super Powers are currently displaying uncanny arrogance and demonstrating utter disrespect for human lives by using the innocent Syrian Children, women and defenceless men as pawns.
The complex crisis involves not just the terrorism and recalcitrance of Assad, it also includes the political intrigues of the world power; hence, the current world’s disposition to the Refugees Crisis. Since the start of the imbroglio, none of the major game players have been to Syria sincerely for the sake of the Syrians. Each was equipped with its inimical conviction to achieve a peculiar selfish interest.
It is therefore not surprising to hear the most hypocritical statement of the century oozing from the oral cavity of the Russian President. Vladimir Putin recently said that: the Syrians are fleeing because of ISIS and not because of Assad smacks of a politically pre-calculated proclamation.
It is no secret that Russia is backing Assad (not Syria) in this devilish enterprise purely because of economic and military interests. Moscow has a naval facility on the Mediterranean in Tartus, Syria.
In November, 2011, while a Russian flotilla, led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov visited Tartus to show support for the al-Assad government at the outbreak of hostilities between the government and its citizens, Washington and the Gulf Emirate intensified its support for the mercenaries.
On one hand, the definition that best suits al Assad in this modern time will simply go thus: Al Assad is a ‘terrorist’ leader who has been responsible for the killing of almost a quarter of a million of his own people, including children and women in a defiant and merciless attack.
On the other hand, ISIS will mean a terrorist organisation or better still, an advanced version of the defunct Al Qaeda that has been undeniably linked with the US In many instances.
The “powerful” elements in the world are also using ISIS as a delusional identity to blackmail humanity in the name of religion in order to create a “powerful” comfort zone or ambiance for Zionism to thrive and make the State of Israel the “America” of the Middle East.
No doubt, Russia, America and Israel have aggravated the problem in Syria and they have rudely perpetrated many evils that perfectly fit into the theories of terrorism, just as other “servant states” like the depraved Saudi Arabia government, France and England are being used as tools for human destructions.
For instance, it is known to all key watchers of world events and every student of International Affairs that Saudi Arabia has in no small measure, contributed to the mess in Syria than any other Arab nations.
Saudi’s offensives and funding of the weapons of war have had a lot of disturbing effects on the Syrian refugees as the subsistence of the crisis naturally prevents a secure atmosphere necessary for the care for the refugees.
On the other hand, some American officials have actually alleged that wealthy Gulf citizens (even without their governments’ consent) have protestingly lent support to the helpless citizens, indirectly, assisting the rise of Syria’s jihadists.
The pariah state of refugees
Findings have most unfortunately, established that hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled the war to the Gulf States and Western nations have become poorly paid labourers. While few professionals (expatriates) among them have built lucrative careers, most of them work as low-paid labourers who simply gave up their rights to get menial jobs, and they could be forcefully deported with little or no notice.
Though, regarded as ‘refugees’ they are neither accorded none of the protections or financial support that come with legal refugee or asylum status, nor were they offered a path to future citizenship benefits.
UNHCR new role
So, nothing has changed after all as the UN has failed to live up to its very essence. UN defines of refugees as individuals who: are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence because of a well-founded fear of persecution or people unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
Eventually, the only thing that has changed is the integrity of the UN that is being swallowed up by double standards and selfish interest of the evil forces. One other thing that has changed is the inclination of the people of the world. Many people did not feel any concern for the Syrian refugees until the picture of the drowned Syrian boy went viral on the social media.
It is high time the sane people of the world came to their sanity. When it happened in Poland many, the world, including some countries in Western Europe felt unconcerned.
When occurred in Europe’s Bosnia, the rest of the world stood akimbo, when it took place in Rwanda the people of the globe kept criminal silence, when Israel slaughtered Palestinians, the world simply stood disgraced, when the Lord’s Resistant Army and the Anti Balaka terrorist slaughters maimed, raped and enslaved their victims in Congo and Central Africa Republic, the world felt unperturbed; and as the UN and the world powers callously looked away when the Syrians are being locally massacred, displaced and enslaved in foreign lands it is instructive to warn, particularly the beneficiaries of the present blood bath that what goes around shall surely come around.
It is also pertinent to wake up; the so called Western apologists who clothe themselves with the garment of human rights activists, especially in Africa and Asia; to their responsibility. It is high time they found their voice once against.
Merely excusing their refusal to act in the face of crimes against humanity being committed on daily basis in Syria on baseless ideological issue is unacceptable as that amounts to unwholesome pandering to the concocted theory and propaganda of the Western powers hook, line and sinker.
No, that’s what the media wants the world to believe so that when another ‘Nation’ would be next, the world will be cut napping; and the strategy of selective destruction continues without the people of the world getting to know of the evils and those behind it.
What is going on in Syria is simply a deliberate violation of humanity. It is so because some greedy Homo sapiens who have arrogated leadership of humanity to themselves prefer their inordinate ambition over and above the lot of the same humanity they claim to be leading.
By Yusuf Jimoh Aweda, the Director, Centre For Human Rectitude