I profughi disperati stipati in barche che arrivano sulle spiagge di ciottoli della costa meridionale del Kent sono facilmente ritratti come invasori. I manifestanti anti-immigrati hanno sfruttato tali paure lo scorso fine settimana mentre bloccavano l'autostrada principale nel porto di Dover per "proteggere i confini della Gran Bretagna". Nel frattempo, il ministro degli Interni, Priti Patel, accusa i francesi di non aver fatto abbastanza per fermare il flusso di profughi attraverso la Manica.
attract much attention on the last highly visible stages of their
journeys between France and Britain. But there is absurdly little
interest in why they endure such hardships, risking detention or death.
is an instinctive assumption in the west that it is perfectly natural
for people to flee their own failed states (the failure supposedly
brought on by self-inflicted violence and corruption) to seek refuge in
the better-run, safer and more prosperous countries.
what we are really seeing in those pathetic half-swamped rubber boats
bobbing up and down in the Channel are the thin end of the wedge of a
vast exodus of people brought about by military intervention by the US
and its allies. As a result of their “global war on terror”, launched
following the al-Qaeda attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, no less than 37 million people have been displaced from their homes, according to a revelatory report published this week by Brown University.
study, part of a project called “Costs of War”, is the first time that
this violence-driven mass population movement has been calculated using
the latest data. Its authors conclude that “at least 37 million people
have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the US military has
launched or participated in since 2001”. Of these, at least 8 million
are refugees who fled abroad, and 29 million are internally displaced
persons (IDPs) who have taken flight inside their own countries. The
eight wars examined by the report are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria,
Yemen, Libya, Somalia, northwest Pakistan and the Philippines.
authors of the study say that the displacement of people by these
post-9/11 wars is almost without precedent. They compare the figures for
the last 19 years with those for the whole of the 20th century,
concluding that only the Second World War produced a bigger mass flight.
Otherwise, the post-9/11 displacement exceeds that brought about by the
Russian Revolution (6 million), the First World War (10 million),
India-Pakistan Partition (14 million), East Bengal (10 million), the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (6.3 million) and the Vietnam War (13
are visible once they cross an international frontier, but IDPs are far
more difficult to trace, though three-and-a-half times more numerous.
They may move multiple times as the dangers they face ebb and flow.
Sometimes they return to their homes, only to find them destroyed or
that the means to make a living has gone. Often they must choose between
bad and worse as the battlelines shift, forcing them into a nomadic
existence within their own country. In Somalia, the Norwegian Refugee
Council says that “virtually all Somalis have been displaced by violence
at least once in their life”. In Syria, there are 5.6 million refugees
but also 6.2 million IDPs with out-of-work malnourished families
struggling to survive.
of these wars were started as a direct consequence of 9/11, notably in
Afghanistan and Iraq (though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with
al-Qaeda and the destruction of the World Trade Centre). Others, like
the ongoing war in Yemen, were launched by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and other allies in 2015. But it could not have happened in
the first place, and have gone on for five devastating years, without a
tacit green light from Washington. With 80 per cent of the Yemeni
population in dire need, the only reason there are not more refugees is
that they are trapped inside Yemen by the Saudi blockade.
willingness to launch wars and to keep them going might be less if
American, British and French leaders had to pay a political price for
their actions. Unfortunately, voters have never understood that the
influx of refugees, to which so many of them object, is the consequence
of the vast displacement caused by these post-9/11 foreign wars.
surpassed Afghanistan in 2013 as the country in the world producing the
most refugees. As violence and economic collapse continue, the number
of Syrians forced to flee their homes is likely to go up rather than
down. One feature the eight post-9/11 wars have in common is that none
of them have ended, despite years of inconclusive fighting. This is why
the numbers displaced is so much higher than in extremely violent but
far shorter conflicts in the 20th century. The endless nature of these
present-day conflicts has come to seem to be part of the natural order
of things, but this is absolutely not the case.
powers pretend that they are working ceaselessly to end these wars, but
they only want peace on their own terms. In Syria, for instance, the
president, Bashar al-Assad, strongly backed by Russia and Iran, won the
war militarily by 2017/18. It had been a long time, in any case, since
the US and the west genuinely wanted to get rid of Assad because they
feared his replacement by Isis or al-Qaeda-type movements.
Washington and its allies also did not want Assad, Russia and Iran to
win an outright victory, so they have kept the pot bubbling in a
conflict in which Syrians are the miserable cannon fodder. Similarly
cynical calculations about denying the other side an outright victory
have kept the other wars going, regardless of the human cost.
US is not alone in bearing responsibility for these conflicts and the
mass displacement of people they caused. The Libyan war, launched by
Britain and France with US backing in 2011, was advertised as saving the
Libyan people from Muammar Gaddafi. In reality, it turned the country
over to murderous war lords and gangsters, making Libya the gateway
through which immigrants from north Africa try to make their way to
leaders as dim-witted as David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hillary
Clinton should have foreseen the politically disastrous consequences of
these wars. They generated an inevitable refugee and immigrant wave that
energised the xenophobic far right across Europe and was a deciding
factor in the Brexit referendum of 2016.
Britain, the landing of refugees and immigrants below the White Cliffs
is once again becoming a hot political issue. At the other end of
Europe, migrants are sleeping beside the roads in Lesbos after the
burning down of the camp where they had been living.
waves of migration – and the anti-immigrant backlash that has done so
much to poison European politics – will not end while there are 37
million people displaced by these eight wars.
will only happen when the wars themselves are brought to an end, as
should have happened long ago, and the victims of the post-9/11
conflicts no longer believe that any country is better to live in than
(Republished from The Independent
by permission of author or representative)