Home > Uncategorized > Refugees. Lots of them.

Refugees. Lots of them.

In 2011 there were thousands. In 2012 there were tens of thousands. In 2013 hundreds of thousands. In 2014 millions, mainly in refugee camps in Turkey (2,2 million), Lebanon (1,2 million) and Jordan (1,4 million). Source: Wikipedia. In 2015 these refugees started to wash up on the shores of Europe. Surprise! By the millions. That’s not anything new. The Syrian crisis dislocated 12 million people and is the largest refugee crisis since WW II (look here for a very good WAPO infographic). But it is far from the only one. We’ve seen this before.

And everybody knows the solution: lasting peace in the Middle East. Nobody even talks about it. They will keep coming.


The EU can, theoretically and historically, easily absorb millions of immigrants a year (more about the culture thing below). After WW II, 12 million people or so immigrated to the new, much smaller Germany which enabled the Wirtschaftswunder (though it would take until the end of the fifties before unemployment was really low, this contrary to the situation in some neighbouring countries). But those were not normal times or, more important, this was at that time not a normal country. And today some EU countries are clearly stressed to the breaking point – during the last months of 2015 the number of asylum seekers in Sweden was about 0,4% of the population. Per month. (graph 1, Sweden has about 9,5 million inhabitants, Germany about 80 million). The press mentions for Germany a million immigrants in 2015 but that includes non-refugees, the newspapers mention a German rate of 100.000 a month at the moment.You can’t expect a country to accept this.

Sweden even runs the very real risk of joining the ranks of overburdened countries like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. What makes things worse: until we start talking about and working on the real solution (see above) the present refugees and immigrants are just the tip of the iceberg. Millions – and when we also look at economic migrants from Africa: tens of millions – might follow. Remember: after the potato blight about half of the Irish population emigrated. Think about what global warming, might cause… Or the fusarium banana virus, which in some areas, were bananas are a staple food, is as much of a problem as the potato blight. They will keep coming.

And we all know the solution. Prosperity in the home countries.

Until then, we have a problem. Not just because of the numbers. But also because of the numbers. Many Europeans are not really good at procreating. Graph 2 shows the 15-19 year olds in 2014 as a % of the number in 2005 (some countries: 2006, data Eurostat). Latvia stands out at: 50%. But the entirety of ’emerging Europe’ is in dire straits (technical detail: the 2005 number of 15-19 year olds was often already below the level consistent with a stable population). There seems to be a remarkable correlation between a low ratio and a negative political attitude against refugees. Demographically shrinking populations feel overwhelmed by refugees – also as the large majority of asylum seekers are male (two thirds to three quarters, no sign of any decline according to the Eurostat data) and, in some countries, are recently flowing in in numbers which totally skew the ‘natural’ sex ratio – surely considering small cohorts of young people.


Which brings us to the culture thing. One of the in my eyes more despicable German habits is the ‘Oktoberfest’, ritualized serial binge drinking, increasingly characterized by violence and, yes, rape. These rapes and sexual harassments get a lot less attention than the recent rapes and robberies in Cologne, in the official media as well as, a fortiori, on social media. Even though, in October, German waitresses at a lilywhite Fest in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, went back home after a few hours because of sexual harrassments by foreign men. Let me be politically correct: our view of such events, be it in Cologne, Munich or Alkmaar, is clear: see the picture (if this were my daughter? I would be bothered about the cigarette). Via @Nicolaewna.

CX-IWs6WAAAPAfF.jpg large

Behaviour aimed at curtailing the freedom of women in the public (or the private) space can not be tolerated. End of story. But there are more problems. Immigrants are at a higher risk of poverty. Unemployment is higher: in my country it is between 2,5 times (Turkish men and Surinam women) to 3,5 times (Moroccan women) as high as among people from Dutch origins (source: CBS). They are less healthy. And we all know that in the case of immigrants from Islamic countries gender relations are sometimes problematic: gender related dishonourable killings – not a purely islamic phenomenon in this area! – still happen and too many young men have issues with women in the public space. Sometimes I even get the impression that this is stronger here than in their countries of origin even though increasing numbers of women have jobs while the education of the second and third generations is way better than the education of the first generation, which is or was often even illiterate in its own language (this wave of immigrants seems to be better educated). These are long and complicated stories but though many -most- immigrants are succesful an underclass does exist. But I just don’t buy that, in the medium and long run, they will only be a drag on countries.

Anyway: they will keep coming, if we want it or not.

We all know the real answers to the problems causing this. But instead of talking about this and working on it we are bombing Syria into oblivion. Considering this, the only other option is to invest in them. Education, health care, citizenship. It is possible. It did happen before.

  1. January 8, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    As a citizen of the US I can say that it is a military dictatorship occupied by cowardly pentagonian perverts that mainly invade relatively poor countries and attack unarmed innocent families. Their apparent goal is world domination via destabilization and regime change throughout Europe.

  2. January 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Very interesting analysis. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
    January 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    They will only keep coming if European nations allow them to keep coming, something which our spineless present politicians will keep doing unless they are removed. That is why the far right is gaining momentum in proportions never seen before. Immigration has always been a boon when immigrants have gone into a new country and conformed to their cultural norms, values and lifestyle.

    The new wave of Islamic immigration is different. They want to go in and impose their world view on their host countries. This is why most people find it unacceptable. Resolving the problems in Syria will not help in any way. It will just reshape the migratory flows, and while the US is a de facto dictatorship led by the military-industrial-oil complex pulling the White House strings, it does not pay the US to destabilise Europe given that the EU is the US’s only ally in the upcoming struggle between China, Russia and the US.

    • merijnknibbe
      January 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

      One of the remarkable aspects of European geography are the very long coastlines along the Black Sea and the Mediterranean see. As a practical matter of fact it is very difficult to keep people out. But that’s not the point.


      Did you ever think of the fact that the day is not nigh but foreseeable when Turkey will have more inhabitants than Russia as well as a higher GDP per capita (not because of high Turkish birth rates but of low russian ones)? I’m sure Erdogan and Putin did. And they act accordingly. We (Europeans) really have to take account of this and actively strive to a stable situation, including a democratic and stable Turkey, a Kurdish state and borders which are not drawn by politicians but decided by voting (does the Krim want to be part of Russia? does the Kola peninsula wants to be part of Finland? Etc.). Instead of this, we’re restricting cheese exports to Russia…

      So, these refugees do not come out of the blue. And the human suffering connected with the largest refugee crisis since WWII is a problem, as well as the question of large numbers of young, disgrunteld, unemployed men a lot of whom have the idea that their honour and that of their family is not tied to their behaviour but to that of ‘their’ women – and who to an extent are influenced by fundamentalist ideas about this (most extreme: the Daesh glossy Dabiq is clear about the role of women in society – they have (quote) “to produce men”. Though in reality the ‘wifes’ given to soldiers are not allowed to get children as that might make these men actually bond to somebody). Mind: just like the destroying of ancient temples this is ‘modern’ behaviour, just like the sexual assaults on the Tahrir square. For one thing because they were probably instigated from ‘above’..

      I do not agree with you that this wave of muslim immigrants actively wants to impose such views upon us. There is a reason why they did not flee to Deash but to Turkey and later to Europe. But there sure are scores fundamentalist preachers activ, many of them well funded. And to be clear: what happened (drunken men systematically sexually assaulting women) in Cologne is not te be tolerated by the state.

      At the same time these men find themselves in a culture which, sadly, celebrates the Oktoberfest (message: if you’re drunk anything goes) … and which tolerates (or at least tolerated) the Regensburg scandal: http://www.thejournal.ie/regensburg-domspatzen-ratzinger-benedict-choir-child-abuse-scandal-2538826-Jan2016/

      We do not seem to have a viable answer ot any of this – our politicians are not so much spineless but lacking any kind of vision (is it that difficult to state that we need peace in Syria (which might need boots on the ground) instead of only: let’s join the fight?). A coherent respons is needed, the present situation might sure lead to progroms. The answer of course can’t be a policy only directed at young, unemployed, disgruntled Middle East and Mahreb men (who are already here) and it’s very, very difficult to stop them from coming. But is hasn’t to be just like that, too. Going back to the Christian roots of western society we can invoke a Jewish comment on Genesis 9:20-21 (Noah, a ‘prophet’ in the Jewish as well as in the Christian as well as in the Muslim tradition, planted a vineyard, got drunk and naked, to the horror of his sons who covered him):

      Once while Noah was hard at work, breaking the ground for a vineyard, Satan drew near and inquired what he was doing, “What are you planting?”

      Noah: “A vineyard.”

      Satan: “And what may be the qualities of its fruit?”

      Noah: “The fruit it bears is sweet, be it dry or moist. It yields wine that gladdens the heart of man.”

      Satan: “Let us go into partnership in this business of planting a vineyard.”

      Noah: “Agreed.”

      Satan thereupon slaughtered a lamb and then in succession a lion, a pig and monkey, and fertilized the soil with each in turn. Thus Satan conveyed to Noah the qualities of wine. If a man drinks one glass, he is as meek as a lamb; if he drinks two glasses, he is boastful and feels as strong as a lion; if he drinks three or four glasses, then behaves like a monkey, he dances around, sings, talks obscenely and does not know what he is doing; and if he becomes intoxicated, he resembles the pig.”

      Let’s not behave like pigs.

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