Ilargi: The Real Refugee Crisis Is In The Future

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor-in-chief of The Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

Perhaps Angela Merkel thought we didn’t yet know how full of it she is. Perhaps that’s why she said yesterday with regards to Europe’s refugee crisis that “Everything must move quickly,” only to call an EU meeting a full two weeks later. That announcement show one thing: Merkel doesn’t see this as a crisis. If she did, she would have called for such a meeting a long time ago, and not some point far into the future.

With the death toll approaching 20,000, not counting those who died entirely anonymously, we can now try to calculate and predict how many more will perish in those two weeks before that meeting will be held, as well as afterwards, because it will bring no solution. Millions of euros will be promised which will take time to be doled out, and further meetings will be announced.

But the essence remains that Europe doesn’t want a real solution to the crisis. That’s why Merkel refuses to acknowledge it as one. The only solution Europe wants is for the refugees to miraculously stop arriving on its shores. If more people have to drown to make that happen, Berlin and Brussels and London and Paris are fine with that.

If those who make it must be humiliated by not making basic needs available, by letting them walk dozens if not hundreds of miles in searing heat, then the so-called leaders are fine with that too.

Europe needs leadership but it has none. Zero. At the exact moment that it is time for all alleged leaders to stop talking about money, and start talking about human lives. It’s matter of priorities, and everything Europe has done so far points to nobody in charge having theirs straight.

That goes for Greece too: Tsipras, Varoufakis, all of them, need to stop campaigning on money issues, and direct their attention towards lives lost. That may well lead to a Grexit not on financial grounds, but on humanitarian ones. And those are much better grounds on which to leave Europe. Get your priorities straight.

Europe needs to, first, meet tomorrow morning and engage in immediate action to facilitate humane treatment of all refugees. And then it needs to call subsequent meetings at the highest levels to look at the future of this crisis. Not doing this guarantees an upcoming disaster the scope of which nobody can even imagine today.

The media focus on a truck in Austria where 70 human beings died, and on a handful of children somewhere who were more dead than alive when discovered. These reports take away from the larger issue, that there are dozens such cases which remain unreported, where there are no camera’s present and no human interest angle to be promoted that a news outlet thinks it can score with.

Brussels and Berlin must throw their energy and their efforts at ameliorating the circumstances in the countries the refugees are fleeing. They need to acknowledge the role they have played in the destruction of these countries. But the chances of any such thing happening are slim to none. Therefore countries like Greece and Italy must draw their conclusions and get out, or they too will be sucked down into the anti-humanitarian vortex that the EU has become.

Europe needs to look at the future of this crisis in very different ways than it is doing now. Or it will face far bigger problems than it does now.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera lifted part of the veil when it said last week (Google translation):

The desperation of millions of human beings, manipulated by traffickers and by terrorist groups is also an instrument of disintegration of the countries of origin and of destabilization of the host countries.

It is estimated that sub-Saharan Africa will have 900 million more inhabitants in the next twenty years. Of these, at least 200 million are young people looking for work. The chaos of their countries of origin will push them further north.

That is the future. It will no more go away by itself, and by ignoring it, than the present crisis, which, devastating as it may be, pales in comparison. Europe risks being overrun in the next two decades. And as things stand, it has no plans whatsoever to deal with this, other than the military, and police dogs, barbed wire, tear gas, fences and stun grenades.

This lack of realism on both the political and the humane level will backfire on Europe and turn it into a very unpleasant place to be, both for Europeans and for refugees. Most likely it will turn the entire continent into a warzone.

The only solution available is to rebuild the places in Syria and Libya et al that the refugees originate from, and allow them to live decent lives in their homelands. If Brussels, and Washington, fail to realize this, things will get real ugly. We haven’t seen anything yet.

At present, it is as impossible for Greece and Italy to define their own policies on the refugee issue as it is on their economic policy. They will be drawn down with the rest of the continent if they allow the EU to take charge of either issue, but the most important one today is the refugee crisis.

Stop talking about money, start talking about people. Or you will desperately regret it in the years to come. Consider yourselves warned.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. Tony

    This is a good policy suggestiono if you assume infinite resources and infinite growth. From another perspective, Europe has about three times the population its carrying capacity can support. It seems that Africa’s population will keep growing until hits hard resource limits. In this context rebuilding Syria and other countries will either delay the inevitable for a few years, or they will become EU run death camps.

  2. gardener1

    On the topic of migration –

    Just in the course of browsing around the internet news and some of my most frequented websites one day a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I had seen the same migration story being replayed all over the world.

    I had watched a Ross Kemp video on ‘The Beast’, the Mexican train loaded with desperate Hondurans on its roof by the thousands to make the dangerous journey north. I had seen a news blurb of forlorn MENA people in tent camps by the side of the road in Calais scrambling through thick traffic trying to jump on to trucks headed north. A video of a bus in Macedonia (!) overwhelmed by the masses of people hanging on to it for dear life in an attempt to cross to cross into the EU; entire families with small children afloat on makeshift rafts in the Mediterranean hoping to survive and beach on land somewhere else.

    I have read that half of the entire Syrian population, some 7 million people, are now refugees.

    – I realized that we are in the midst of a great human migration. Right now. It is huge. And it is everywhere.

    So then I asked myself, what are the common circumstances of these diverse peoples causing them to flee home and family country for unknown fates? This is the very most acute desperation!

    One commonality that seemed to be present, was that all of these people came from countries in which America had been meddling in their affairs, both covertly and overtly. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Honduras, El Salvador. American meddling (over the years) seemed the most obvious common denominator. – Or perhaps I view with a jaundiced eye –

    But it seems to me that we are in the midst of the largest human migration I can remember in my lifetime. Or perhaps it’s even bigger than that?

    1. financial matters

      Yes. I think US centric shock doctrine neoliberalism largely conducted through the IMF and World Bank contributed to the poverty through privatizations etc. And the violent regime changes to enforce these polices contributed to the violence aspect. These problems are being magnified by climate change.

  3. coboarts

    It’s sad to say, but those clambering onto boats to escape chaos and hell will only destroy Europe if they are allowed in – nothing else matters. Everyone does not have a right to live – there are no rights. Life is worth fighting for. If you don’t get that, you are too comfortably numbed by the extravagant existence that has been privileged to you by the fortunes of birth. It begins…

  4. Praedor

    Rebuild Libya and Syria, their countries of origin. That’s what caused the entire crisis! The US/NATO seeking to rebuild those countries in a neoliberal manner of their choosing. It’s so-called neoliberal “creative destruction”. The neoliberal REAL technique based upon, “We have to destroy this village to save it”.

    Unless these countries can be rebuilt without all the US/NATO/EU neoliberal strings attached, then there’s no point to rebuilding them at all. The idea is to rebuild their countries such that they want to, and CAN, live there. The way it’s been done there so far cannot lead to a livable place. The whole rebuild in the neoliberal way is what wrecked Iraq…and Iraq is STILL not a livable place. Unless someone can push forward with a totally different way to rebuild these countries (without strings attached to DC or Brussels) then it’s going to be waiting for nature to take its long, painful, ugly course. And the EU (and USA) deserves what comes of that course.

  5. James Housel

    So many catastrophes on the horizon. When the glaciers of the Himalyan Plateau are gone…so too will be the rivers that flow from them. The Ganges, The Yellow, The Mekong, just to name a few. THEN you will see a migrant crisis!

  6. susan the other

    When Africa reaches 1Bn people, in 20 years, why won’t Africa have achieved better living standards? It’s a mess right now but the effort is being made to change it. I remember the days back in the 60s and 70s when German North-South Politik was all about setting up a European refuge in Africa from the coming ice age. And now we see that largesse doesn’t work both ways. Anyway it’s probably a moot point. Too bad there’s no place on earth to take refuge from overpopulation.

  7. david

    The Diplomat: Hillary Clinton quote – “we came, we saw….He’s dead”

    So went Gaddafi, as The Empire of Chaos brought its circus to town.

    Gaddafi gave women the best medical care and education in Africa as well as a stable prosperous society for……. 40 years. The USA told its Vassals in Europe, he was next in line to be taken out and now 1,000,000 refugees are coming to the EU and people are surprised!

    and this Woman says she has the experience for the job – which means more ……Chaos everywhere!

  8. Oregoncharles

    What policies would stabilize Libya and Syria – or the other places these refugees are coming from?

    Ilargi is very careful to stay at a high level of abstraction, so he can make moral pronouncements (correct enough) without dealing with the details. Like a major war going on in either country.

    It’s true that US and EU policies created the mess – though dictatorships eventually fall, often leading to chaos. That does not mean US or EU policies can fix it. Available evidence is that they can only make it worse, though that may reflect malice in their actions so far.

    He’s right: the only moral way to deal with a refugee crisis is to deal with the disaster that sent them on their way. What if you can’t really do that? Floods of refugees really are destabilizing to the recipient countries, especially when they’re already a basket case (Greece and Italy; why aren’t they going to Spain?)

    Ilargi is pretending there’s a solution when there is none visible.

    1. financial matters

      Not easy for sure. And these aren’t new problems. In the Afghan famine of 1972 no one even knew the population of Afghanistan. But probably 80,000 people died in a drought related famine.

      Now we are seeing drought followed by damaging rains where mitigation measures to moderate these effects could be useful as well as realizing the urgency of dealing with climate change.

      Opium is a very drought resistant crop and very valuable so destroying these crops currently leaves farmers with no alternatives.

      Breakdown of law and order leads to nonstate armed actors filling the power void such as ethnic warlords, drug traffickers, mercenaries, tribal militias, bandit gangs, and internationally connected terrorist networks. (Parenti)

  9. Giovanni Zibordi

    Facts do not square the narrative

    Saudi Arabia expelled ONE MILLION immigrants starting December 2013 (plus other frome emirates and also Israel) and now Europe is getting about one million “refuges”. The no 1 country to send people to Italy is Eritrea, that had no war since 2000, but is 300 km from Saudi Arabia…and had lots of migrants there

    Why werent 3 millions palestinians that truly lost their home and land forever not accepted in Europe ? Unlike peopole from Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Etiopia, Siria etc they cannot go home even now.

    why do we see mostly young men, few women, less children and no old people among the refuges ? Do young males leave women, children and the elderly behind when there is danger ?

    An Ivory Coast “refuge” yesterday slaughtered 2 Sicilians pensioners. What war exactly is going on his country that he deserved to be here ?

  10. Mattski

    Amazing how much racism can flow from the lips of your average contemporary liberal–European or American, it hardly matters. More proof, if we needed it, that liberalism as historically constructed, that is as the pursuit of “freedom” by a rising European and American middle class, is now quite bankrupt as a moral, let alone critical construct.

    The crisis is indeed upon us.

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