February 29, 2004

Iraqi Refugee Crisis

I received the following extraordinary email:

The graphic you posted for Iraqi applications for asylum to Germany raises an important factor weighing on Mr. Blair's support for the Iraq war. I have never heard any mention of this. I don't know why.

In (roughly) December 2002 the number of these asylum seekers turning up in the UK was getting completely out of hand. The majority were Iraqi. Many were temporarily held in detention centres (read:hastily contructed prisons) pending processing, which was getting backlogged by up to 2 years. Then some of these people burnt down the biggest such centre, creating a not unexpected media frenzy. Almost all the refugees were penniless and were not capable of integrating quickly. They were also being forced to distribute thoughout the country (although they all wanted to stay in London), and so most of the country saw the effect first-hand. This was a gift of an issue for the Conservative opposition, and Blair was in a corner. Moreover, it wasn't going to go away, and could well cost him the next election.

After sitting it out for a couple of weeks, he then made the amazing claim that he would set in motion plans to reduce the total number of applications for asylum by 50% within 6 months (no-one believed he could even stabilize it). This was viewed as a laughable, King Canute-like statement. But he did it - and the rest is history.

It's certainly an interesting precedent. If you create too many refugees, you are going to end up with the Desert Rats lounging in your presidential palaces while you end up in a spider hole. It's certainly not WMD as a cause of war but why not? Anything to shrink the gap.

Posted by TMLutas at February 29, 2004 03:38 PM