While millions of Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, and remembered the pilgrims who arrived safely to America in 1620 after fleeing persecution, the question of whether borders should be closed to refugees is continuing to be a matter of public debate. Earlier this week, Sweden put an end to its open-door policy for refugees.
However, in assessing the recent economic implications of the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan and Lebanon, it is clear that in order to actively work towards international security and economic development, an open-door refugee policy can prove fruitful.
Earlier this month, the Institute for Economics & Peace published its Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – the results show that the number of people killed globally in terrorist attacks jumped 80 percent last year. What is least surprising is the source and location of this terrorism – 92% of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 happened in countries where political violence by the government was prominent, and that 88% of the attacks took place in countries that were already involved in violent conflicts. The message these statistics are sending out is clear: violence breeds violence.
I believe one of the most effective things that the international community can do is to burst the bubble of terrorism and allow people to flee, rather than forcing them to remain in an incubated environment that continuously breeds violence.
Burst the bubble of terrorism and allow people to flee, rather than forcing them to remain in an incubated environment that continuously breeds violenceYara al-Wazir
While it is necessary that incoming refugees be subject to a series of checks and screening, I believe this should be done for their safety and protection just as much as the safety of the communities they are entering. The influx of refugees into Europe has predominantly been from Muslim countries that are fighting extremism. While far-right political figures in the West, such as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, have expressed concern that they may be “terrorists in disguise,” it should be noted that “Islamic fundamentalism is not the main driver of terrorism in Western countries: 80% of lone wolf deaths are by political extremists, nationalists, racial and religious supremacists,” according to the GTI.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed concerns over the impact of closing the door to refugees on global security. Slowly, it is being recognized that the fight against global terrorism will not be achieved through fighting against the influx of refugees
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir
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