They're Syrian refugees, not migrants (WND)

Migrants? Refugees? The sanitized word for news consumption is “migrants.”

Let’s face it: The people who are arriving in Europe are refugees. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have had a crisis of people fleeing persecution.

Last week on Monday, United Nations spokesman Stéphane Dujarric made it crystal clear that “refugee” and “migrant” were not interchangeable words.

He said, “I think it is very important that, to underscore the distinction between refugees and migrants. They have very clear legal implications and implications of rights of the people and responsibilities of the states in question. And the two terms should not be used interchangeably. What we have seen in Europe recently is that the vast majority of people are refugees. They are fleeing violence. They are fleeing conflict. They are fleeing Syria. They’re fleeing Iraq. They’re fleeing Afghanistan. And whether people are refugees or migrants, they need to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect, and that is a message that the secretary-general, his senior officials, whether it’s the head of the U.N. refugee agency, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and others at all levels, have been constantly calling for.”

Europe and the United States, as well as other countries, have an obligation to take care of these people fleeing from violence. The first obligation would be to stop ISIS/ISIL from doing the damage they have done. Either the world does not know how to stop them, or does not want to commit the troops or does not feel that ISIS/ISIL is a big enough threat.

Huge threat or smaller threat, the result is thousands of refugees. History, though, has taught us lessons. The relevant lesson here is the sad story of the St. Louis. In May of 1939, passengers boarded the St. Louis with the destination of Cuba. There, they hoped, they would eventually get the visas to the United States. One passenger had already been interred at Dachau Concentration Camp. Cuba kept the ship in the harbor and wanted a staggering amount of money for that time, $500. The United States rejected the refugees as well, and the St. Louis returned to Europe.

So, what happened to the passengers of the St. Louis? According to the Jewish Virtual Library: “Great Britain took 288 passengers; the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers, Belgium took in 214 passengers; and 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France. Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died.”

This is similar to what we saw this week in Hungry. Until Saturday, countries had not stepped up to the plate to do what is required under the 1951 U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was revised in 1967. (The United States is signatory to the revised 1967 but not the 1951 agreement.)

By calling people fleeing this conflict “migrants,” it diminishes the responsibility of these nations.

Another lesson of history is Rwanda. Although, former President Bill Clinton now says it was a mistake not to call what happened “genocide,” he did not make that declaration in 1994. Now there is a paper trail showing that President Clinton was aware of the genocide of the Tutsis in April of 1994. If genocide is declared, then United Nations countries have certain responsibilities by agreement and signatory.

It is not impossible for the United States and Europe to take in more Syrian refugees. Many are highly educated. In fact, there is precedent for taking in refugees when it is in our interest. The opening of Vietnam restaurants in the U.S. is legendry, as our government gave refugees money and visas in exchange for information about Vietcong enemies during the war.

The United States and Europe take care of refugees when it suits their political interests. However, we as human beings have a greater responsibility. As United Nations spokesperson said this week, “I think it is very important to underscore the distinction between refugees and migrants.”

The people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are refugees. They need to be treated as such and given the respect and support that European and North American countries are required to give. Austria and Germany are welcoming them. The rest of the world needs to as well. Nothing less is acceptable.

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