World View: Russian and Syrian War Crimes Are ‘Weaponizing’ the Refugee Crisis for Europe

Assad and Putin

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Bulldozers bury the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais France
  • Russian and Syrian war crimes are ‘weaponizing’ the refugee crisis for Europe

Bulldozers bury the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais France

Evicted migrant walks past riot police in 'The Jungle' in Calais (EPA)
Evicted migrant walks past riot police in ‘The Jungle’ in Calais (EPA)

Two weeks ago, officials in France announced that they would evict about some or all of the 4,000-5,000 migrants living in “The Jungle,” the refugee camp in Calais, France’s closest point to Britain, where migrants come in the hope of hitching a ride to Britain to seek asylum and take advantage of the welfare benefits.

France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the evictions would be done “progressively, by persuasion and with respect for people’s dignity.”

So that isn’t exactly what happened on Monday and Tuesday when the bulldozers arrived. There have been violent clashes at the site, where French police have been forcibly evicting migrants from their tents and shanties. Migrants retaliated by setting tents on fire and throwing rocks at the police, resulting in several arrests and the use of teargas to disperse the migrants.

According to Cazeneuve on Tuesday:

The activism of a few No Borders militants, radical and violent, cannot stop it: This operation will go on in the next days, with calm and discipline, and will offer each and every (migrant) a spot as the government promised.

However, it is not always clear where evicted migrants, many of whom are women and children, are supposed to go, or where the government’s “spot” can be found.

French authorities say that it wants people to move either into an adjoining compound of converted shipping containers, or to take buses to accommodation centers elsewhere in France. However, many migrants are afraid to take advantage of any “official” refugee accommodations provide by France, because they would be required to register and request asylum in France, which would preclude them from requesting asylum in Britain. CNN and Guardian (London) and Independent (London)

Russian and Syrian war crimes are ‘weaponizing’ the refugee crisis for Europe

On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Adrian Edwards said:

Europe is on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis.

The crowded conditions are leading to shortages of food, shelter, water and sanitation. As we all saw yesterday, tensions have been building, fueling violence and playing into the hands of people smugglers.

The accusation that the crisis is “self-induced” is the kind of bizarre thing that one hears from the United Nations, as if Greece, which is going through a major ongoing economic crisis, could ever have predicted that a million migrants would have poured into Greece in the last year. If the UNHCR made such a prediction a year ago, I’d like to see a link to it.

According to the testimony of Nato commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the UNHCR should actually be blaming Russia for the continuing refugee crisis. Breedlove says that Russia and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad are “weaponizing” the refugees by using barrel bombs on civilian villages in Syria. According to Breedlove:

Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve.

I can’t find any other reason for [barrel bombs] other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem.

According to Breedlove, the barrel bombs have no military value except to worsen the refugee crisis.

In January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal, for his massive use of “atrocious acts” and “unconscionable abuses” against civilians. Al-Assad has been continuing his war crimes with attacks on entire civilian villages by regime warplanes and Russian warplanes, indiscriminately dropping barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals and chemical weapons.

Breedlove’s comments indicated that the continued perpetration of these war crimes have no military purpose except to flood Europe with refugees.

About 131,000 refugees have reached Europe so far this year, two to three times the 2015 rate. It is expected that the rate will increase even further as the warm spring and summer weather approaches, and there may be well over one million more migrants headed for Europe by the end of the year. This is a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Reuters and LA Times and US Dept. of Defense

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, France, Calais, Bernard Cazeneuve, Britain, Greece, Syria, Russia, Bashar al-Assad, Ban Ki-moon, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, Adrian Edwards, Nato, Philip M. Breedlove
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