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The global push against refugees

  • 12 July 2018


Cometh the time, cometh the exploitable prejudice. With millions of globally displaced persons, states are retreating from the business of treating the condition as one of dysfunction inflicted by war, famine and poverty. It has morphed from a matter of humanitarianism to one of social ill and unease.

The issue of fault has been shifted, to the individuals themselves, and their colluding agents, the people smugglers. What is salient now to the issue of state security is who has the best drawbridge, the most suitably booby trapped moats, and the least interested agent who might assess any worthy claims. If there is processing to be done, someone else is to take the tab.

In Hungary, Victor Orbán has made it clear that he is holding some sort of blazing torch for European civilisation. The fact that the Avars were themselves fairly indifferent to dispossessing, plundering and marauding is simply too ironic for patriotic junkies like the Hungarian prime minister. In the visage of purity and values, he is leading the charge against refugees, drawing strength from his colleagues within the Visegrád group of states.

The latest innovation from Budapest is legislation that targets organisations and individuals who help refugees through the provision of assistance. 'The primary aim of this legislation is to intimidate, by means of criminal law, those who fully legitimately assist asylum seekers or foreigners,' noted the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a local human rights group.

The sinister sting here is the punitive angle taken against the entire process of seeking asylum or refuge. In this, an air of inspiration is being drawn, notably, from the attempts of the Australian parliament to do the same. Refugees are to be repelled rather than processed, expelled rather than integrated. This notwithstanding that niggling ethical and legal point on whether a person facilitating the furtherance of a right might be punished for doing so.

In Austria, refugees are becoming imperishable gold in political exploitation, with dark allusions to processing camps being made. Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache have been making the most of it, though they have also enlivened a protest group against them.

Germany is also finding itself in the refugee tangle. Chancellor Angela Merkel is being gradually strangled in public fashion by the likes of her interior minister Horst Seehofer, who is making time between sessions to take the carpet from under his boss and booby trap it for good measure. To that end, he has