A partial solution to the global irregular migrant problem

Some weeks ago I said, on the subject of illegal irregular migrants, that “We, Canadians, should understand what motivates these illegal migrants ~ most of them 95%+, for sure, just want to make better lives for themselves and their children, and we should not reject anyone, ever, on the grounds of race or creed or sex. Real, legitimate refugees need to be helped in the best ways we can.

Now I see an article in Foreign Affairs by David Miliband, a former British (Labour) Foreign Secretary (2007-2010) and now President of the International Rescue Committee, in which he proposes to address the root causes of the migration crisis by focusing the World Bank on the issue because, he says, “The institution’s core mission is to end extreme poverty and promote sustainable development. But the geography of poverty is changing, shifting more and more toward conflict-affected sites. [Former World Bank President Jim Yong] Kim understood that fulfilling the bank’s mission meant tackling the consequences of war and forced displacement. It is essential that his successor continue on this path.

David Miliband asserts that “Extreme poverty and conflict go hand in hand. By 2030, some 85 percent of extremely poor people—those living on less than $1.90 a day—will live in fragile settings, affected or threatened by war and other shocks. The number of armed conflicts around the world is 65 percent higher today than it was a decade ago. Many of these conflicts are civil wars, which tend to last longer than interstate wars and are much more likely to recur after a peace agreement has been reached … [and, he explains that] … As a result, displacement is lasting longer—at least ten years for the average refugee. During those years, many of the displaced are unable to work or go to school. The host countries are often overburdened: almost 90 percent of the world’s 24.5 million refugees live in low and middle-income countries, which already struggle to educate their populations and expand their economies. An influx of refugees can threaten tentative progress toward development. And when host countries do develop, refugees are often left behind. Refugee children are five times less likely to attend school than their peers.

The global response to the displacement problem has been underwhelming,” Mr Miliband says, and “Back in 2007, the United Nations reported a 28 percent shortfall on its humanitarian appeals. As of 2017, that number had risen to a shocking 40 percent. Most humanitarian aid addresses the short-term, basic needs of camp populations, even though the majority of refugees now live in urban areas. By circumstance or by design, national poverty surveys rarely include refugees. When countries submit their action plans for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, they rarely account for the displaced populations they house. The goals themselves include neither indicators nor targets for tracking process among these populations.

I think we can all understand that people are desperate and they see little problem in exploiting loopholes in various nations’ border  security and refugee determination processes if they can make a better life for their children … I suspect most of us would do the same.

During Jim Yong Kim’s seven-year tenure,” the author says, “the World Bank stepped into the breach. It expanded support for countries threatened by conflict and began to focus on transnational crises, including displacement, climate change, pandemics, and famine. In 2016, the bank started offering concessional financing—grants and loans with little or no interest—that allowed it to raise more than $2.6 billion for low- and middle-income countries that host refugees.” Some will say that this is just another example of people, like Justin Trudeau, who just want to (very visibly) throw money at problems but, in the end, do little if anything to really help the poorest of the poor, but David Miliband explains that “The model has the potential to be a game-changer. Instead of stopgap cash, the bank provides multiyear financing that allows refugee-hosting states to improve a broad range of services, from public infrastructure to health and education. The grants and loans support vulnerable 220px-Dambisa_Moyohost communities as well as refugees, thereby helping reduce friction between the two groups.” That model ~ long terms loans and investments and partnerships rather than just aid is what noted economist Dambisa Moyo advocated in her very influential (2009) book ‘Dead Aid.” Dr Moyo has suggested that Africa, in particular, needed some new financing mechanisms that might include increased trade (particularly among African nations and with emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil), foreign direct investment, entrance into international capital markets, and increased domestic savings through remittances and micro-finance. The end goal, she posited, should be to phase reliance on aid down to 5 percent or less within five years. Suffice to say that has not happened. In fact, despite China’s leading role in investing in Africa, some African countries appear to be having second thoughts about the terms of Chinese investments. The World Economic Forum, however, thinks that there are some “common misconceptions in Western media and policy circles about the nature of China’s involvement in Africa … [and that] … interferes with US policymakers’ ability to craft and implement an effective Africa strategy … [and] … Debunking these myths will foster a more constructive understanding of Beijing’s interactions with the continent and allow the United States to focus on areas of competitive advantage.”

In my opinion the US led West needs to re-engage with Africa, especially, and, in different ways, with West and South West Asia and the Middle East, too. These regions are the source of the great migration which threatens, even more than China’s ‘rise,’ Russian opportunistic adventurism and Islamist terrorism, to destabilize the world. This re-engagement needs to be more than Mr Miliband suggests and more than the World Bank can do on its own. Countries like Australia, Britain, Canada and Denmark and all the rest whose very essence is being changed by illegal migration need to do something, quickly and, indeed, radically to stem the flow of migrants … that means taking action at the source of the things that are making innocent people flee from their homelands, for their very lives, or give up on their homelands, in despair.

In some cases this may require the US led West to take direct military action under the Responsibility to protect doctrine that was pioneered by Canada back in the Chrétien era, but direct, military action . is likely to be rare. What countries like Canada can do, very effectively, is to join with the Chinese and compete with the Chinese in investing in African (and West Asian and Middle Eastern) development and in helping third world countries to prosper . by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers which keep their goods out of North America, European and Asian markets. Free(er) trade is the best way to improve the lot of the most people in the shortest time … a job is the best social programme everywhere in the world. The best way to prevent problems is to take action, quickly, at the source,  but I doubt that the current US leadership is much interested in doing the right thing in the right way because unless President Trump sees an immediate m-1“win” for the USA he is unlikely to be interested. But that does not mean that other countries, like Canada, need to wait; this is one area where small and middle powers can lead, too. They can lead in a combination of their own self interest, because, after Asia, Africa is the next great market for goods and services, and in the better interests of humanity at large.

We, the US led West, China, India and the Africans (and South West Asians) themselves, need a stable, prosperous, developing, free(er) trading Africa to supply the world with resources and manufactured goods and services, too, and in their turn, to buy resources, manufactured goods and services from the rest of the world. The last thing we, and this includes Africa, is millions and millions of Africa’s best and brightest migrating to Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Migration is the biggest crisis facing Europe, today, and it provokes fear inAmerica, Canada and in Asia, too. The people who are fleeing for their very lives from e.g. Syria and Yemen and too many African countries to mention are, simply,  looking for ways to survive and, maybe even to make better lives for their children, too. Countries like Australia and Canada help only the tiniest of a minority of those in need when we admit 10-Largest-refugee-campsa few tens of thousands each year, leaving millions to suffer in despair in camps in e.g. Jordan and Kenya. The real solution do not lie in marginally increasing the migrant flows into Canada, Germany or Sweden; it lies in Canada and Germany and Sweden acting in Africa and the Middle East and in West Asia to deal with both the root causes that turn innocent people into refugees and to deal with the huge problems in the refugee camps. Part of those solutions will involve collaboration with e.g. the World Bank and with the various and much in need of real reform UN refugee agencies; some . might involve ‘coalitions of the willing’ that will undertake large scale relief operations in and around the camp, taking some of the burden of the poor host nations, and some might involve other coalitions of the willing that will undertake robust, military Responsibility to Protect operations in some of the failed and failing states that are creating large flows of refugees.

 

 

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