Middle East studies in the News
Faculty Discusses Refugee Crisis [incl. Elizabeth Frierson]
by Alex Mutnansky
A panel gathered Thursday to discuss surrounding problems of the global migrant crisis.
In hopes to escape the war-torn countries they left behind, migrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Eritrea continue flooding into Eastern Europe.
The panel comprised of Elizabeth Frierson, a history professor, Ivan Ivanov, a political science assistant professor, Evan Torner, a Germanic studies assistant professor, Sunnie Rucker-Chang, a Germanic studies assistant professor and Yolanda Vazquez, an associate professor of Law.
Frierson began the panel by examining Syria's history and eliminating prejudice, which she said media outlets perpetuate.
Syria has some of the oldest cities in the world, some of which are apart of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage – cities the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is currently destroying.
The first major wave of Syrian refugees began fleeing to Turkey in June 2011, when Middle Eastern governments began using what Frierson said to be "unethical tactics against protestors."
These tactics include tear gas, water cannons and military bombarding of neighborhoods,
Over half of the 23 million Syrian population is displaced and 250,000 people have died due to war crimes, use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs.
According to Ivanov, the European Union is unable to handle the refugee crowds due to political and economical tensions.
Ivanov referenced to the Dublin Regulation, a EU law implemented for countries to take responsibility over refugees that enter its borders, but few countries actually adhere to it.
Germany has lead the way in the migrant crisis, embracing migrants for the sake of increasing its own workforce, Torner said.
"This is not just a global migrant crisis," Torner said. "It is a complex situation of many sovereign states doing their part to help the situation. There was a lot more the EU and all of these nations could have done to have been better prepared."
Migrants used to pass easily through the Balkan migrant route, but the climate has dramatically changed due to the increased migrants, said Rucker-Chang.
Many countries, like Bulgaria and Croatia, have closed its borders. Some have added wired fences and are not accepting migrants. Macedonia has used tear gas in an attempt to slow the flow of migrants.
According to Rucker-Chang, this is not the situation for all countries in the Balkans. She ended on an iconic picture of a Serbian policeman embracing a young Syrian child.
"It offers a counterpoint to other images we have seen," Rucker-Chang said. "This is an example of what a positive country looks like, [one] that has accepted these migrants and allowed them to pass through freely."
Vazquez said that the migrant crisis in Europe mirrors that of the U.S., where economic refugees are not considered real refugees.
According to Vazquez, migrants coming from Central America take very dangerous routes. A common route is riding on top of "la bastia," or the beast, a train used by refugees to travel across the U.S. border.
When they finally arrive to the U.S., migrants sit in family detention centers.
Vazquez added there have been orders to release migrants from the detention centers, but those were not followed because it looked at as a flight risk for another surge of migrants across the border.
According to Vazquez, based on what the U.S. has done with their domestic migrant crisis, it is not surprising there has been a struggle with the situation in Europe.
"It helps to understand the political complications as well as the history," said Joel Wolfe, professor of Political Science. "It will help students better understand the role of law in the migrant crisis."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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