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  • Writer's pictureLaci Felker

On the Status of Refugees in Europe | A Follow-Up to Belarus: Europe’s Last Dictatorship

Originally published October 10, 2021, with Muses Nest, a defunct online human and woman's magazine.

The Migrant Crisis in Europe has turned the entire continent into criminals. With many refugees fleeing from the war and devastation in the Middle East, Europe has reached its height with many nations in the European Union following in the footsteps of Belarus. Earlier this year, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was under scrutiny for his hand in sending migrants out of Belarus and pouring into surrounding countries. Now, many European countries are sending the migrants away and there is a battle between the countries.

A battle which is violating the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees of 1951. The Geneva Convention convened after the Second World War which updated two previous conventions and added two more, all with the aim of defining the rights of those affected during wartime. The four conventions were ratified by over 190 countries, with the countries in the European Union being a part of them. If refugees are fleeing their countries because of the threat they face to either their life or freedom, and the Convention strictly states that the core principle is to not send someone back to a place where they are threatened. Asking for asylum is a human right. However, many European nations have been ignoring the fact that they should evaluate whether or not the people asking for asylum would be in danger if the asylum is not granted.

In previous decades, Europe has offered sanctuary to refugees since the 1951 conference, but since 2014 migrant/refugee crisis has been a topic of concern when many people were escaping the terror happening in the Middle East. Seeking asylum is not new and, in fact, it happens every day all around the world, but in an age where people are advocating for equality and understanding, there is a lot of turning people away. Since no countries want to allow migrants through their borders, many are left without a place to go which ultimately leaves them wondering what is going to happen next. Many of them have been left to wander the woods between the European Union countries without a place to stay.

Earlier this year, it was easy to point the finger towards Lukashenko, and that does remain the case—in part—but his inhumane acts have spread to other leaders in Europe. Now, border control is considered more important than human rights. Lukashenko has been labeled “Europe’s Last Dictator,” and for good reason. With corruption, heavy censoring, and now an attempt to bring many refugees into Belarus and then immediately send them out to fend for themselves in other countries, Lukashenko is rapidly labeling himself as a deplorable human.

Many country leaders were intent on pushing back against Lukashenko and pointing out his gross negligence and under-handed tactics in a more diplomatic way, but now their stance against Lukashenko’s attempts to destabilize the region is putting people who need help into the crossfire. The EU wants to show Lukashenko that they will not play his game and that if he’s intent on bringing so many migrants into Belarus then he can keep them, but once the migrants are pushed towards the bordering countries, Belarus refuses to take them back even if they’ve been turned away.

This political standstill is costing people their lives, with many not seeing the migrants (who came to Europe because they need help) as people, but as pawns in a game that has no end in sight. Some countries have declared a state of emergency while others have stopped aid from going to the borders to help the migrants. It’s clear that no one cares about the fact that these people have been ousted from their homes and left with nowhere to go, they only care about proving a point to a dictator who obviously doesn’t care about anything other than his political movement.

In a world where people claim to want better for the others around them, there is a severe disconnect between what they say and what their actions are. There is no telling what will become of this crisis that only seems to be worsening the more time goes on, but one thing is for sure: people are not pawns, even though this has been the case many times throughout history, and it’s high time people came to understand and realize that this game can only end one way, and it’s not good for anyone involved.

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