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Hanging out to dry behind the EU frontier

Mark Mardell | 00:01 UK time, Monday, 3 December 2007

Draped over the white walls, beside a snowy sports pitch, the washing provides a splash of colour in Pavsino camp. The shirts and trousers hanging out to dry are just as likely to freeze through in the cold of a Ukrainian winter.
Pavsino camp

The men, bundled-up in sweaters and long coats against the weather, wander around in rather aimless groups, over-looked by guards in camouflage and grey fur hats.

They’re held in this camp, hidden in the woods near Ukraine’s border with Hungary and Slovakia, because they’ve tried to cross illegally into the European Union, after making their way from their home countries to Ukraine without papers.

There are 364 men held here at the moment. They have all been caught trying to get across into Slovakia and most of them, 60%, actually made it over the border before being caught and sent back.

Asylum-seekers

The Ukrainian authorities say that everyone they catch applies for asylum. Of the thousands of people who have passed through here in the last few years, none has ever been finally granted that official status.

But the law says they have to be given temporary asylum while their case is being investigated, and can’t be held longer than six months. The authorities say once they are released most of them immediately try to make it across the border.

As soon as they catch sight of our camera, they cluster around to tell their stories. The uniformity of their view is striking.

They are all insistent on their right to look for a better life in Europe, and seem supremely undisturbed that their way of making that wish come true is illegal.

All complain about the general situation in their various countries, but none claims that they personally were subjected to specific persecution. They all want to talk mainly about the Ukrainian attitude and about the camp.

Vocal Somalis

The most vocal group, and the largest, are the Somalis. Nuh Hassan Warsame tells me: “I want to go to the European Union but the Ukrainian police caught me and I’ve been here for three months. I like London, England, Britain. I wanted to go from Slovakia to Austria and finally London. It’s a lovely place.” Adding, “I also support Arsenal.”
Men at Pavsino camp

What would he do if he got to London? I ask. “I am a refugee and I want to build a new life. I want to be a reporter.”
Did he have a job in Somalia?
“No. There’s been a war for years.”

There are men from Vietnam and China although none of them speaks English. There are Indians and a man from Sri Lanka who doesn’t want to talk on camera who says he has left his family behind to prepare a better life for them. Fahad Tariq from Pakistan is pushed forward by his friends to have his say.

“I was twenty kilometres inside Slovakia and they caught me there and they deported me to Ukraine, I don’t know why. I had taken 25 days to get there, by train, cars and walking. I gave them 15,000 dollars for this. There are problems in our country, there is an emergency and I wanted to get into Europe and stay in Germany.

“I want to do business there because I have a lot of money. I can do business here, I have qualifications in accounting. I don’t know why they are doing this.”

Another tale from Karwan Ahmed from Afghanistan.

“I was found in Slovakia, I came from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, from there to Moscow and from Moscow to Ukraine. I was about 40 kilometres inside the border but the police caught me in the forests.

"As everyone around the world knows, Afghanistan is in a bad situation. We need a life, the facilities that human beings need. I want to go to any country that would make me happy”.

Would you work?

“Of course we would work, we want something to eat. I was working in a shop in Afghanistan. We need a life, need a future.”

While I want to hear their stories, they want to tell me about conditions in the camp. They say the guards and their bosses don’t speak any of their languages and don’t speak the language many of them speak, English. They claim they never get to see the benefit when the charities visit, and complain the food is always cold.

Fahad Tariq says: “They don’t give us good food, good clothes. They are giving us nothing here, even though the charities give money. There are great problems here, No blankets, not hot water, the batteries for heating aren’t working. They’re eating the money themselves, they are not giving anything. We are very, very, very unhappy”.

Food and clothing

The man in charge of the camp, Major Anatoly Zhupanov, says everything the charities give is passed on.

“They get clothing and food from a charity organisation and they get the same food as soldiers in the army. If you’d come here six months ago you wouldn’t recognise it now because the building was in a terrible state and all the money went for repairs.
Winter in Pavsino camp

“The inmates break everything, break the windows and don’t give their clothes back when they leave. They can move around in here freely, they play games, football, volleyball all day.

They get food and they’re just waiting. It’s difficult for them because they are waiting to get their asylum-seeker status. But when they get out, all they do is try to cross the border again.“

The lure of the European Union is not going to end and I can see all Ukraine’s borders becoming choke-points for people who want to leave home and better their situation, whatever the costs and risks.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:23 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Szymon wrote:

It's easy to notice that most asylum seekers come from unstable, war-torn regions.

All the EU and the US can do is to work harder to fight poverty and to prevent military conflicts worldwide.

But let's face it. The problem of war and hunger is as old as the human being is.

  • 2.
  • At 08:59 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Chris McGeachin wrote:

Funnily enough nobody seems to ask the migrants the question I want to know. My greatest concern and the reason I believe makes it right to stop them is their attitude and cultural affinity. Perhaps their willingness to flout international law is indicative of this. I want to know if they came to stay in the UK would they accept and abide by not only our laws but also our liberal cultural identity or would they, as many of their predecessor have done, set about trying to force us to adopt their values and beliefs. Immigration is a healthy thing but only when the incomers show respect for the host culture.

  • 3.
  • At 10:14 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Kevin Hayes wrote:

We ain't seen anything yet - this is not even the beginning.

  • 4.
  • At 10:43 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Hello

As they look across the border at the European Union, little do they realise that it is how people in most European towns look at each other - in most towns and cities, there are some areas of plenty and some at subsistence level.

Education is the answer to this problem.

At the opposite ends of the problem we have: compulsory education, which lots do not want to attend and no education where everyone wants to attend.
Perhaps we should start building PFI schools overseas and invite missionary’s here to assist us.

All very confusing, unless we just issue the border guards with guns....

  • 5.
  • At 10:46 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Ronald Grünebaum wrote:

Individually, these are sad stories.

But Europe is not the land of milk and honey and most of these migrants have not understood that they have no qualifications that Europe would need. We are already struggling to find work for our own under-educated citizens.

This leaves a life of misery and crime for the illegal migrants and they should really consider staying home and improving the situation there. After all, things only change when there are enough angry young men....

  • 6.
  • At 01:04 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Mike Robbins wrote:

It is difficult to argue for completely free immigration; the sheer numbers could cause real instability across Europe.

On the other hand, in an unequal world there will always be mass migration; and we have to stop ignoring this problem and hoping it will go away. Many come from countries (such as Somalia)that were occupied by European powers well within living memory, and now we're saying they can't come in and share our prosperity(apart from a few illegals who we graciously let clean our toilets).

A partial answer might be for the EU to become a larger, looser union, starting with Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia perhaps.That would mean abandoning closer European integration, but we can't go on just barking "Keep out!" at the huddled masses camped outside the castle walls.

  • 7.
  • At 01:18 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Catalin wrote:

There's allways the dream of a better life in another place, even when that's not the case!
Most of them only want to make some money working on jobs that the people in the 'host' contry would never take: low-paid and dangerous or hard to do.
There is however another type of immigrants, the ones who leave all behind because of cultural or professional reasons.
That is not a bad thing. At all!
Temporary immigration is good both for the host contry and for the origin country one has. The problem is when a 'cultural clash' takes place, when people forget about respect and common sense, and they get into conflict that is being escalated by various groups in the media or in politics. The West could not do without immigration, just as the poor countries need the money to build up their economies. Of course, in the bigger picture, it's a lot of money involved, and there are those who take advantage. Sometimes it can get to what some call 'modern slavery' - people being exploited. Of course, illegal immigrants are the mose exposed to that. They risk it all because they have nowhere to turn too, their home countries are either ravaged by war or economic hardship and for many this is the only possible solution.

  • 8.
  • At 02:29 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Steve Baker wrote:

We must help all nations to prosper peacefully, and the best way is free trade.

  • 9.
  • At 03:56 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Anne Kelly wrote:

Many comments about mass immigration include statements like the following:-

"Most of them only want to make some money working on jobs that the people in the 'host' contry would never take: low-paid and dangerous or hard to do."

With 2.7 million adults on invalidity benefits (doubled from 20 years ago) and many young people not interested in work its clear that immigration has been necessary to keep the country going. However, the amazing thing is that our political masters have allowed this situation to develop and even encouraged until recently ever higher levels of immigration.

Mass immigration to enable millions to be idle is economic and social madness. I hope the Lib / Dems and Labour will take full responsibility when the problems (shortly) come home to roost.

  • 10.
  • At 04:29 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • KC wrote:

I think perhaps it is also important that we consider the Ukrainian point of view here.
These men complain about living conditions in Ukraine, yet the regions bordering the EU are some of the poorest in one of Europe's lowest-income countries.
Living standards for Ukrainians themselves are well below those of their Slovakian and Hungarian neighbours and lower still than those living in 'Old Europe'.
In addition, Ukrainian citizens also have little chance of entering the same countries in which these men are seeking asylum.
Surely we need to consider the impact that 'Fortress Europe' is having on it's neighbours. Through the European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU should be seeking to assist its neighbours with the costs of the knock-on effects that it's own policies have. The EU currently only assists in fighting smuggling, etc. on the Ukraine/Moldovan border.
There is already a considerable amount of resentment in Ukraine towards these immigrants and EU policy towards Ukrainian citizens. Many Ukrainians I have met feel that as Europeans they should have preference in gaining the opportunity to live and work in other parts of Europe. Whilst I don't argue that this should necessarily be so (see Mike's comment above about past occupation), it is a sensitive issue and we need to exercise caution in making judgements on the 'accommodation and facilities' afforded these people by the Ukrainian authorities.

  • 11.
  • At 05:25 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Derek Tunnicliffe wrote:

There just isn't a single solution to the continuing flow of would-be immigrants to Europe. Education is needed but the reults from that won't be immediate. People need to have a reason to want to stay and make their future in their own country.

But there's another problem.As Mike says, many of the countries of origin were colonionised until quite recently. Now, many of them refuse to allow any form of assistance from - from former colonialist countries or others in the West.

Meanwhile, there are low-skill jobs that no-one wants to do: here, in France, in fruit & veg farming, catering, etc. KC's idea of helping Ukraine and others in a similar situation is worth pursuing.

  • 12.
  • At 07:19 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew Rettman wrote:

Who should Europeans fear more? A man who has heroically walked across Central Asia to build a better life for his family, or an obese, terminally-unemployed cretin who feels entitled to government hand-outs because he happened to be born British or German?

We all get just one life and everybody has a fundamental right to make it as rich and romantic as they can. National borders and the bureaucracy of modern statehood are insult to human dignity. I'm with the guys dodging the cameras in the snowy forests.

  • 13.
  • At 09:11 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • AK wrote:

Do they want to work? Of course they do! (And a lot harder than we Working-Time-Directive-led Euros would even consider without resorting to riots and tantrums *cough* France). I say let them in and give us a wake-up call.

On the issue of Turkey, if it complies with the criteria set by the EU then it should certainly be given membership. The way the EU deals with the issue is being closely watched by other countries in the Middle East and north Africa and to go back on our word would do irreparable damage to our international image and credibility, as well as taking away the major bargaining chip we have with our neighbours.

  • 14.
  • At 09:57 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Don't give us your tired or your poor or you huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

We don't want the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, don't send the tempest toosed to we.

There is no lamp, there is no golden door, just a sign that says, EU closed for business and would be economic migrants, keep out. All ye who enter here abandon hope.

Personally, I'm glad it's easier to walk across Asia, Africa, and half of Europe to get to the EU than it is to swim the Atlantic or Pacific. Still America takes in an endless stream of economic migrants from all over the world including from the lowest rungs of society, the uneducated and somehow manages to find jobs for all of them even if they start out picking produce in the fields or cleaning buildings or just caring for the elderly. Even they eventually work their way up the ladder. And prominent among the economic migrants are......citizens of the EU who, educated and skilled have left that imagined paradise for climes with more possibilities for realizing their own dreams. The EU would do well to advertise to the third world that things are not as good there as they imagine so not to waste their time and money trying to get there as there are no jobs for them if they come and they are not wanted by those who live there either. There is no welcome mat. It's all the EU can do now just to take care of itself, its rich uncle has disowned it, the price of betrayal.

  • 15.
  • At 10:13 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Denis O'Leary wrote:

"Frozen out and hanging out to dry behind the EU frontier". What a ridiculous title! Is the EU some kind of Shangri-La to membership of which every country on the planet can eventually aspire? Is Russia not enjoying a boom based on raw materials (oil and gas) on which the EU depends. Are not nation states formerly (?) within the Russian sphere of influence responsible for the well-being of their own citizens (and persons happening to try an transit their territories)? Does this responsibility not include meeting the criteria necessary to enable them to join the European Union rather than the other way round? One could go on.

  • 16.
  • At 11:41 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

KC #9
Everyone wants to move up the ladder in life. Chinese peasants in the country want to go to the city. Those in the city want to go to Hong Kong or the EU. Ukranians fight with migrants from the developing world to get into any part of the EU while Poles and French want to go to Britain to get jobs. And where do Brits want to go? Judging from the accents I hear around my neck of the woods, a lot of them wind up in America. BBC reported that 10% of the indiginous British population emigrated. And where do Americans go? Nowhere unless they have to. The only way an American will go to Britain to live and work is if his American employer pays for it and it is only temporary. Even with the weak US dollar, British companies cannot match the overall buying power or standard of living for people of comparable marketable skills in the US. Just remember when you look down on those poor slobs banging on the EU's doors to get in, Americans are also looking down on poor slobs trying to get through its doors and some of those poor slobs are your friends, neighbors, and relatives Britain. We don't care, we'll take people from anywhere.

  • 17.
  • At 05:15 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • henry cossey wrote:

One wonders what the future holds for all these migrants. What an overcrowded world this is!When Marie Stopes in the 20s opened the first birth control clinic in London,she warned the world that over population would mean the extinction of the human race. Is her warning coming home to roost? The assorted religeous orders still have the warcry of "Go forth and multiply".The multi nationals have as their war cry "The more people,the more money we make" As the old lady said"Where will it all end"

How are the authorities catching these immigrants, is this a defended border or is there a special force? Also, I think that this is another example of how no person is illegal.

Its kind of interesting to see how alike the US board with Mexico is to the EU boarder with the rest of the world. Its also depressing to note that the EU is taking the same stance as the US on this issue. If you think building a wall will keep these people out of the EU you might want to look at whats going on in the US. It wont work people will simply find alternative means to get in. And then if you are really lucky you will find a cargo container full of dead bodies, sweat shops full of mistreated workers, and child prostitution rings just like what has happened in the US.

  • 20.
  • At 11:15 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Derek Rohan wrote:

Reply to KC.

Your suggestions makes no sense whatsoever.Being caucasians doesnt make Ukrainians Europeans!Since the EU enlargement we have had ENOUGH of so called Europeans from Poland and other countries flooding into UK,Ireland etc.
Result - Wage dumping, increased crime, prostitution,aggressive begging, benefit scrounging etc.

Ukraine has to stay out, become more democratic, reduce corruption and above all improve living conditions of citizens before even thinking of joining EU.We have learned a lesson by opening up to ill prepared countries in 2004 and certainly dont prefer it again!

  • 21.
  • At 07:39 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • mick downes wrote:

these liberal do-gooders are driving me over the edge!where in the uk do you live certainly not in the immigration hotspots.we talk about people fleeing persecution,there are very few genocidal war zones in this world,we talk about economic migration.If everyone walked out on their country of birth because life has got tough Immigrants come here because we are soft we are too pc to send them back home to improve their own lot we are frightened to send conglomerates to invest in third world countries because we might accuse them of exploitation.we are a tiny island about 700 mls end to end there is a limit and we have passed it

  • 22.
  • At 07:47 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Micheal O'Riain wrote:

it is too easy for an African to accuse himself of being a political refugee / asylum seeker. He can solve his problem by crossing one of his own local borders. He does not need to fly thousands of kilometres to Europe.Doing so, proves he is not a genuine asylum seeker.

  • 23.
  • At 05:09 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Mikhail wrote:

We need to keep them out, through a mixture of helping to develop their countries of origin, and firmness (if necessary, even brutality) at the border. Europe is not a dumping ground for the 4bn people in the 3rd world (or rather it is, but shouldn't be). Europe is losing its cultural identity fast enough - does it have a death wish or something?

  • 24.
  • At 12:28 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew from Moscow wrote:

I inquired about ten years ago whether it was possible for me to go to work to Europe. I've got the impression that they'd give a green light to Turks and Algerians, but no person from the country of Chekhov, Kandinsky, Stravinsky, etc was allowed to enter. Talk about cultural affinity...

Now things have changed dramatically. Russia gets more immigrants each year than the EU does. Russia has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. With average wages in the Moscow region higher than in the Czech Republic, the Ukrainians and Georgians have flocked to Russia in droves. Yet they don't riot on the streets of Moscow because we manage to assimilate them.

If Europe wants to learn how to deal with multiculturalism, it has to learn quite a lot from Russia.

I wonder if there can be any reason why there seems to be a world developing which increasingly appears to be made up of an armed fortress full of rich people relying on poor people for cheap labour -while the poor outside do everything possible to get inside to share the rishes generated by their own exploitation.

Is this pure chance, a natural development, an unavoidable consequrnce of human nature -or are such things possibly the result of our own selfish greed which offers others little choice?

  • 26.
  • At 01:32 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Nick Powell wrote:

How right KC is! As Mark points out, it's the Ukrainians who are capturing the people the EU wants to keep out. In my experience their road blocks on the Carpathian mountain passes, well inside Ukraine, look more effective than patrolling the frontier with the EU. That's largely a series of lines that Stalin drew on the map and could only be effectively secured by bringing back barbed wire and minefields; not an attractive idea. Bad gaff by the way on last night's 10 o'clock news when a trail for Mark's report refered to the EU-Ukraine border as "Europe's frontier". Ukraine is a central European country.

  • 27.
  • At 03:08 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Caspar Heetman wrote:

As unjust as it is to refuse these immigrants to enter, we don't really have much of a choice. Letting them in will not make them or us or the rest of the world much better. International poverty still exists outside the EU and inside it and mostly in Western Europe, the cake remains of the same size, but there are ever more people wanting to take a share of it.

The solution is not to share our wealth with the few 'lucky ones' that make it into the EU, but to improve the international economy by promoting trade and taking away barriers, such as agricultural subsidies.

Western countries ought to feel a responsibility for the well-being of the world. Those that are privileged to live in (relative) wealth have a responsibility to aid those who are underprivileged in their struggle to also gain (relative) wealth. But only those that struggle: the final responsibility for people's well-being is with people themselves alone. Just like this applies to a society, it applies to the countries of the world. Those that struggle deserve our aid.

However, immigration is not a bad thing. Last week I was at an international conference in The Hague, Equal Opportunities for All, organised by the Association of Dutch Munincipalities (VNG) and CEMR, the Committee of the European Regions and Munincipalities (of the EU). Essentially the same things were discussed as above: Migrants need to respect the host culture, but the host country also needs to appreciate the qualities migrants have. Their education in their country of origin is not always level to our education, but certainly not useless. In 66% of the cases, it was explained, they are capable of a lot more than unskilled labour.

The former speaker of the Bundestag, the German parliament, explained how Germany had looked at The Netherlands for solutions to the problem of immigration and the integration of migrants in the German society. She explained how Germany started to adopt the Dutch example, until in the Netherlands it was concluded that the apparoach did actually not work: the flow was too big, with mostly unskilled labourers that became a strain on the social welfare system. Closing the border alltogether, as the previous Dutch (right-wing) government did is in the long term unfeasible. Then she explained how Germany started to look at Canada as an example.

The Canadian approach is very interesting. Only about three years ago, for the fun of it, I tried to immigrate to Canada. I didn't really intend to do that, but I went to the website of the Canadian immigration service. That's where you can find out if you're eligible to migrate to Canada. By answering all kinds of questions about yourself, you can earn points for all the things that are 'good' about you: English and French language proficiency, being young, being well-educated, having a kind of skill that is rare in Canada, etc. If you have enough points, you can get in, if you don't: too bad fo you. The approach is interesting because Canada selects only those migrants the country needs, making it a whole lot easier for the society to deal with immigration. Integration of migrants is a lot easier if they have a job and do not sit at home all day, and getting a job is a whole lot easier if you have the right qualifications for it and there is actually a need for your skills. Sadly, the Canadian approach appears to be still exclusively Canadian. Europe would do well to adopt it.

Another interesting person at the conference was the Dutch Deputy Minister of Social Affairs (Labour Party), the Moroccan-born Ahmed Aboutaleb. Of everything he said, one phrase was most interesting, because it was so unexpected to hear it from his mouth: that Muslims should not feel themselves victims and blame society for their lack of well-being, but instead struggle to become better. However, he also said that the host society should appreciate the cultural difference of migrants. It is interesting to hear this from a Dutch Labour Party member, because what he said was essentially the middleground of the debate on migration in the Netherlands. The left defends that there is discrimination and treats migrants as victims of it and aims to fight this by 'positive discrimination' whereby migrants are privileged over native people. The right counters that there is no discrimination, but that migrants often do not meet job specifications and therefore get no job, language proficiency being the most problematic issue. According to the right, migrants are not victims and even if they are then it is of their own inability to acquire skills matching those of native people.

As with so many things, the truth is probably in the middle. No discrimination perhaps, and possibly a lack of skill, but certainly also a lack of flexibility on the part of employers. While it is of course important, fluent command of the native language is to a necessity for every job and although it is sometimes a sensitive thing in several European countries, in many cases communication in English provides a solution to probblems with the native language. In any case privileging people is not the solution.

Pragmatism is a necessity for dealing with immigration and integration problems. I go back to the former speaker of the German Bundestag, who observed that in most European countries, the state of well-being of migrants is higher when they arrive, than a few years later, while one would expect this to be the other way around. It also ought to be the other way around. The postitive mindset that the migrants, like those interviewed by Mr. Mardell, have, will have disappeared after a few years. Part of that, she observed, was caused by our generous welfare state, to which they are not accustomed. While joblessness is THE direct cause of the decline of well-being, the welfare state is one part of the cause of joblessness: it is too generous. That is not an unproblematic observation, because many will argue that we should not reduce the welfare state because it aids the less well-off in our society.

I feel it will still take years before this Gordian Knot of interwoven political issues of immigration, integration, the welfare state, and international trade will be untied, or cut in half, as Alexander the Great did. In any case it will need a comprehensive solution. Perhaps Canada can inspire Europe there.

  • 28.
  • At 04:18 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

It has just occurred to me - has anyone ever explained to these people who come from impoverished but very large countries, just how tiny the UK is? How crowded? How cold?
That no-one is needed and therefore not wanted.
Perhaps if they stayed in their own countries and tried to improve life there, it might be a better use of their clear determination to improve their lot.

  • 29.
  • At 06:29 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • GHR wrote:

On the individual level one can emphasize with individuals wishing to come to any wealthier region. However on the broader scale there are environmental,social, demographic, economic and cultural reasons to minimize such trans regional migration. A solution alluded to earlier is to work with a number of countries to help them stabilize their countres and thus create a sustainable environmental, demographic and economic society which will lessen the desire to outmigrate. Unfettered population growth and the loss of natural resources has in part created such a movement of individuals. The knowledge that eventually countries will weaken in their resolve and allow some in also encourages this migration. Pro migration groups who do not have a long term perspective tend to indirectly support such attempts of individuals to move into the EU or elsewhere by highlighting such events within a very narrow analysis of the environmental impacts. Europe already is fairly crowded and actually needs to decrease its population base to provide more room for flora and fauna. If environmentally feasible than it would seem that inter EU migration should have a higher priority then allowing in economic refugees from outside the EU.

  • 30.
  • At 11:18 AM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • john newson wrote:

We have recently had to become used to looking at situations in terms of 'stakeholders' - a concept that has moved from the financial world into the larger world and loosely meaning all those whose lives impinge on or are impinged on by any given situation.

Who are the stakeholders here? Well, we are looking at two situations. Firstly; immigration in general. We're all stakeholders in that one. Secondly; immigration over the EU/Ukraine border. Involved parties here include the citizenry of the EU, the citizenry and officialdom of the Ukraine and the immigrants themselves.

The puzzle is how to achieve a positive result for all stakeholders: how to square the circle? Further complicating the issue is the fact that time and the cyclic nature of all events distort the effects of policies, so that results can be randomised by change, or unnoticed against background social movements.

Are we at the bottom of the question yet? If so can we draw the following conclusions?

1. Each of the would-be immigrants, regardless of legal status, should be perceived as an individual, with a name, an ID, and the knowledge that he or she is involved in a process. This reduces many subjective negativities for the individuals concerned.

2. Quid pro quo. We cannot expect third-party countries (such as the Ukraine) to shoulder this burden. It's an EU-generated responsibility because we're rich. Whatever has been said by previous respondents we're stinking rich. We reek of wealth. We attract the dispossessed and the energetic self-uplifters like moths to a candle-flame - as well as many pathetic political refugees.

Consequently it's our responsibility to care for those we entrap in our judicial and legal systems as a result of their illegal immigration. We cannot throw them back across borders to people who are even less able to handle them than we are and bear less responsibility for these people being there in the first place.

3. We must find a way to broadly direct these rivers of people to where they are needed and wanted.I don't hear crippled grannies loudly refusing personal nursing, or recall noticing flood-inundated householders seeing-off Polish plumbers.

I do however, hear complaints about over-stretched (ie, wrongly allocated) resources and the creation of ghettos - which is perceived as being deleterious. I also hear complaints about crime associated with current immigration patterns that turns into a lie on examination of the relevant statistics.

4. We must understand (time and cycles, remember) that we are helpless to do anything but attempt to manage this situation optimally and by the use of compromise - because we have no alternative. It's not going to stop.

We have an opportunity - admittedly a life-changing one - to avoid tragic and unintelligent mistakes which could end up with the immigration situation looking like the war on drugs, another unwinnable scenario where the agent of change, if embraced (with whatever reluctance) would be either less negative - or, as in the case of immigration into the EU - powerfully positive in its effects.

  • 31.
  • At 02:45 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew Holden wrote:

#17 Jan, the problem is that they have a greatly exaggerated view of how rich and wonderful everything is in Europe/the West. They would not believe you even if you told them they were not welcome.

They HAVE to believe in the dream otherwise they have no hope in life. It probably translates to frustration and aggression if they manage to arrive and don't find what they expected.

Their attitudes and lack of understanding is really quite surprising. They expect to be let in the front door? Unless they have a written invitation I don't see why they should expect it.

  • 32.
  • At 06:14 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Micheal O'Riain wrote:

The illegals could better prove their asylum seeker status by crossing a local border instead of travelling thousands of kilometres. Few of those issued temporary work permits remember to go home.If the flood-gates are opened, our grand-children will not resemble Europeans.

  • 33.
  • At 09:35 AM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Micheal O'Riain wrote:

The illegals could better prove their asylum seeker status by crossing a local border instead of travelling thousands of kilometres. Few of those issued temporary work permits remember to go home.If the flood-gates are opened, our grand-children will not resemble Europeans and Europe will become part of the Third world. If Africa belongs to the Africans then to whom must Europe belong?

  • 34.
  • At 09:37 AM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

There is a very good reason our political elites want more and more immigration. They want to undermine the national identities and sovereignties of the western nations so they can build their One World Government (which the elites aspire to rule without any form of democracy involved - hence the EU process of slowly eliminating the purpose of national parliaments).

And also, it used to be that immigrants came here for freedoms that they didn't have at home, now they just come to sponge off the welfare state. Anyone fleeing from middle eastern countries is automatically fleeing from islamic terror and oppression so why do they want us to respect their fake religion? We not only have the right to insult their 'prophet', but also to call him a warmonger. That is both our right and a proven fact.

  • 35.
  • At 10:42 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Micheal O'Riain wrote:

Western Europe owes a debt of gratitude to the Slovak and Ukraine border police for doing what other police forces are supposed to do. If more illegals were refused entry then the other gate-crashers would know they are not welcome. Upon arrival they accuse themselves of having all sorts of human rights but are less eloquent about responsibilities and Europe's right to defend itself from external invasion.

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