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When is a refugee not a migrant?

Hugh Eakin gives a comprehensive summary of how the refugee crisis came to this point. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Eakin takes us on a journey through the summer months, recounting in great clarity the plight of individuals who made the perilous journey from Syria to Europe. His article is not short of scorn for Western leaders united only in their pathetic responses and paltry offers of assistance to resolve the worst refugee crisis since World War 2. Part of the problem is their blindness, wilful or otherwise, to who these people actually are - refugees fleeing persecution rather than economic migrants. As Eakin writes: 

"[Some] European leaders have referred to them as “migrants,” or even “illegal migrants,” a wording that obscures entirely the horrors of war they are trying to escape. For its part, the international press has offered little clarity, with the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times mostly opting for “migrants,” and the Financial Times using “refugees” and “migrants” interchangeably; The Guardian is one of the few major news organizations to refer consistently to a 'refugee crisis.' "

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As of October 2015, a refugee is anyone fleeing Syria, yet this unwanted privilege also extends to around 60 million people around the world who are uprooted by war. Perhaps it is expecting too much of leaders of the advanced world to grasp the urgent necessity of a global response, with resources deployed at a level not seen since Marshall Aid. Yet is it too much ask that they get their facts straight? It is incumbent upon politicians and the media to get the language right for their uneasy populaces, rather than to exploit the situation for electoral reasons. Yet when even respected media outlets have it wrong, what can we actually expect from our leaders? 

 

 

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Taking a call on my Apple Watch while changing a nappy