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Posted on 11th September 2015
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Following my previous post about the disgraceful attitude of Britain and France to accepting refugees, I read a useful analysis from the BBC about which countries are best suited to take refugees, and also an interesting article in the latest edition of The Economist.
The BBC article looks at different countries' abilities to take refugees from the perspectives of GDP, economic growth, total population and population density. Germany clearly comes out as best able to absorb refugees, but Britain and France also score quite highly. There really seems to be no excuse.
The Economist makes a sound case that an influx of refugees is good for the host country, so again, no excuse.
So, not only is taking in refugees morally the right thing to do, but several countries which are not pulling their weight are well able to take more migrants, and doing so will benefit the host countries.
There are, of course, other countries who have some moral responsibility towards the refugees. The USA is one; they obviously feel some responsibility, given the amount of money that they have been pouring in. They are the main architects, over the last 50 years, of the political landscape which has helped create the current crisis (Britain and the other colonialist nations share this blame). The USA really needs to step-up and help clean up the mess they created.
Russia is another nation with a major responsibility. Russia is Syria's main ally, and have propped up the Assad regime for decades. Of course, the problem is that Syrian refugees do not want to go there, and it is hard (and dangerous) to get there from the Middle East.
Diplomatic relations with Russia are broken at the moment, due to the Ukraine crisis, and it is unlikely that the West can persuade them to do their share. Also, their economy is in the toilet, and they can not easily afford the impact of thousands of refugees. The USA, on the other hand, is amenable to diplomatic pressure; the main blocking point is that the US presidential election campaign is already in full swing, and an influx of refugees would be hard to sell to an electorate already obsessed with migrants from Mexico and other countries to their south. Nevertheless, other nations should be pressed to share the load; even Australia (not the most refugee friendly nation) has agreed to take in increased numbers of Syrian refugees.
There is one more killer-argument for being more refugee-friendly. The world is changing: environmental disaster is looming and there are wars all over the world; economic growth is mainly in Asia, changing the distribution of wealth amongst nations. One day people of the (currently) rich nations of Europe and North America might become refugees themselves, and need to be taken in by other nations. Doing the right thing now, and setting an example for other nations, might mean a better welcome if/when that time comes.