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Europe’s refugee crisis – More charity little technology

, September 7, 2015, 0 Comments

europe-refugee-crisis-syrian-marketexpress-inThe ongoing Syrian refugee crisis is indeed the darkest phase of world history after the WWII years! Unprecedented in its size and the scale of ripple effects the crisis has exhibited how disjointed our modern world despite landmark advancements in trade, technology, connectivity, and communication systems.

The Traffickers – More Creative and Well-Coordinated

Honorable Pope Francis urged the Catholic Churches around the world to help settle refugees escaping persecution and war. A noble decision, indeed, by a noble-man. In addition to this large-hearted largesse, Germany, Finland, Sweden, & Great Britain further bolstered Europe’s charity credentials with promises of accepting hundreds and thousands of Syrian refugees. However, worryingly these promises may inspire more number of refugees to use the dangerous sea routes spanning Greece and Turkey followed by long treks through the West Balkan forests into the EU. This means more casualties in coming days!

The human traffickers have already leveraged social media tools brilliantly to advertise their “Package Tours” for the restive refugees seeking an entry into the EU. While limited information is available about their modus operandi but it clearly seems like a well-coordinated multinational mafia effort with a network that spans Syria, Greece, Turkey, West Balkan states, and Austria. The traffickers have been creative enough to offer timely and desirable products like the fake Syrian passports! As the sympathy for Syrian refugees is skyrocketing the sale of fake Syrian passports purchased by non-Syrian refugees is adding more beef to traffickers’ earnings.

Employing Tech ideas

The EU could also employ some of the emerging technologies like the use of commercial drones to track the movements of illegal and overcrowded boats moving toward Greece from Turkey, for instance. Or even dropping off life jackets using commercial drones upon spotting such boats as not everyone in those boats can afford the jackets sold at a price by the traffickers. Perhaps the ideas may sound crazy but technology can be used in a lot better manner to help refugees stay afloat. Interestingly, a major chunk of the refugees use smartphones and Whatsapp to share timely information on trek routes and price points offered by traffickers for the services offered.

Why don’t the governments in Greece, Turkey, or Germany create Whatsapp groups to inform refugees about weather conditions and dos and don’ts before venturing into the seas. A little information may prepare and educate the refugees better to face the risks ahead.

Moreover, solar powered devices could be used to ensure a steady supply of electricity and power in the refugee camps managed by the Turks, Jordanian and Lebanese authorities. This would keep the refugees connected with their loved ones as they could use their communication devices without hindrance.

In addition to this the EU could in concert with the Syrians living in the EU set up Facebook pages with information about shelter and point of contacts. This could also resolve the problem of non-Syrians entering the EU with fake Syrian passports to some extent. The Syrian diaspora in the EU should be inspired and motivated to do their bit.

Let the Arabs Decide

While the rich Arab states are yet to accept Syrian refugees the media shouldn’t tarnish their credentials or question their humanitarian disposition. After all, the rich Arab states are at war in Yemen with the Houthis and simultaneously facing the potential dangers from a reinvigorated Iran. This war has highlighted the feeling of insecurity among the rich Arab states with the rise of Iran. Countering Iran backed Houthis from one end and the potential ISIL threat on the other means the Arabs are less confident about their own safety.

Not to forget Syrian refugees are protest-hardened who have hit the streets of Damascus a several times over the last couple of years to question Bashar Al Assad’s rule. This is something the Arabs wouldn’t want to see happening on their soil. Moreover, considering the political proximity of Syrian and Iranian regime the acceptance of Syrian refugees may lead to bigger social problems in the Arab states. In a nutshell, the Arabs are more comfortable accepting economic migrants than political refugees.

Technology over Charity

While Europe has lived up to her charity credentials very well it would help if technology could be actively used to ease the sufferings of the refugees. There is enough of blaming and shaming that is happening in the media. This has left little room for the brainstorming of tech-savvy ideas to deal with the problem. Ideas that could save real lives by timely sharing of critical information. We aren’t in the WWII era. We have progressed and evolved a lot. Sadly, the way we are dealing with crisis says, otherwise!

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of MarketExpress – India’s first Global  Analysis & Sharing Platform or the organization(s) that the author represents in his personal capacity.

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