French PM calls on Gulf to accept more refugees
Carson visits Jordan camp, calls to absorb refugees in Mideast
EVRY, France/AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called on the Gulf states to accept more refugees fleeing Syria, saying that a “humanitarian disaster” could erupt in the Balkans if Europe does not control its borders. “I’ll say it again, Europe cannot accept all the refugees coming from Syria. That’s why we need a diplomatic, military and political solution in Syria,” Valls said Friday evening.
“Every country must play its part; I’m thinking particularly of the Gulf states,” the prime minister said during a discussion with residents of Evry on the outskirts of Paris, focusing on the response to the attacks which rocked the capital two weeks ago. Most of the roughly four million Syrian refugees who have fled their country since civil war broke out have travelled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey.
But Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and other Gulf states have remained closed to them, while Europe struggles to adopt a common policy towards the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are arriving at its borders. Unless the borders of the EU are properly controlled “we are going to see a humanitarian disaster in the Balkans this winter and Europe is going to close up again,” Valls warned.
And while the prime minister rejected any link between genuine refugees and terrorism, he also highlighted the danger of terrorists being allowed into the EU alongside those fleeing war - as seems to have been the case with some of those responsible for the Paris attacks. “All it takes is for a few terrorists to slip in with the influx of refugees, and the people of Europe are saying, ‘Wait, if terrorists are getting in along with refugees, that means any refugee could pose a threat’,” he said. More than 800,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea since the beginning of the year, with the majority coming from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, US Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said yesterday after visiting a camp for Syrian refugees, that the displaced should be absorbed by Middle Eastern countries, with the international community sending aid and “encouragement” to the host nations. Carson toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan under heavy Jordanian security, with journalists barred. Carson’s campaign also limited access, not providing his itinerary and releasing only a short statement after the camp visit.
The candidate has repeatedly struggled to discuss international affairs as they become a greater focus in the 2016 presidential contest. Advisers have conceded that his foreign policy fluency isn’t where it needs to be and have expressed hope missions like his two-day trip to Jordan will help change that.
Carson and other Republicans have adopted a harsh tone when discussing President Barack Obama’s plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the US in this budget year. Debate over Syrians fleeing their war-torn country erupted after a series of attacks in Paris earlier this month that raised security concerns across the West. Carson and his GOP rivals expressed concern that extremists may sneak into the US among them. Last week, Carson likened blocking potential terrorists posing as Syrian refugees to handling “mad dogs”.
After the Azraq visit, Carson suggested that it would be best to absorb Syrian refugees in Middle Eastern host countries, which have given temporary shelter to most of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled civil war in their country since 2011. “Syrians have a reputation as very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population,” he was quoted as saying.
“The humanitarian crisis presented by the fleeing Syrian refugees can be addressed if the nations of the world with resources would provide financial and material support to the aforementioned countries as well as encouragement,” the statement said. “There is much beauty in Syria and I suspect that many displaced Syrians will return there when peace is restored,” he added.
Overwhelmed host countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, have balked at the idea of longer-term integration of refugees. They have complained that they are carrying an unfair burden while the international community’s support has fallen short. An aid appeal of $4.5 billion for refugees in host countries in 2015 is only about half funded. The cash crunch has created increasingly unbearable conditions for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and - to a lesser extent - in economically more robust Turkey. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees moved on to Europe in hopes of a better life. —Agencies