EU countries are “Refugee Shopping” to pick the refugees they want

This is the first article in a Friday series about the refugee crisis facing Europe.

Here in Sicily, we get no choice over the refugees we take in. In these hot, dusty border countries where the EU looks out upon that scary place known as The Third World, we fish them out of the sea and take all of them. Meanwhile some other countries in Europe are “refugee shopping”.

angelamerkelAngela Merkel of Germany is handling this refugee crisis like a profit-savvy human resources manager. She is accepting Syrians – Syrians who have made it across Europe. That takes grit, it takes money, and it takes good health. She has decided to take on the fittest of the fit, and what she has ended up with is Syria’s middle class. She’s got a refugee influx of doctors, teachers, bankers, of literate people who would sacrifice all they have for their children’s education.

You can tell the kind of Syrians Germany is choosing because they are turning up with suitcases and mobile phones.

Merkel has taken the pick of the crop and come off looking like a saint.

david-cameron_2114101bMeanwhile David Cameron of Britain is handling this crisis like a man in fear of losing even more votes to UKIP, the UK Independence Party which wants to leave the European Union, and a man running scared of a Brexit from the European Union in 2017. He wants to stop more foreigners entering Britain, because EU membership already means Britain has no control over the number of East Europeans who have moved to Britain and caused a surge in the level of competition for jobs and affordable housing. They have topped a million already and Cameron knows he has lost many votes to UKIP for this reason.

Above all, he wants to clear the very large numbers of would-be immigrants to Britain camped out at Calais. They break into lorries bringing food and other supplies to British shops to try to sneak into Britain. Once you are hidden in a truck full of food, where do you pee and poo? British shops are throwing away 3 million pounds worth of contaminated food every day. The checks of each lorry, looking for illegal immigrants, are causing tailbacks miles long around Calais.

Cameron knows that he faces revolt in Britain if he doesn’t send out a clear message that camping out at Calais is not the way to enter Britain. He also knows that a very large number of the people trying to enter Britain this way are not refugees at all.

So what has David Cameron done? He has said he is not taking the people who make it across Europe to Britain. He will go to the camps around the borders of Syria and pick out the weakest of the weak, the most vulnerable and the most in need of help. He’s not welcoming the young men of military service age and of ISIL terrorist age; he’s welcoming the orphans and the old ladies.

So Cameron is not going after the valuable human resources, he’s going for the refugees who will evoke maximum compassion from his own electorate.

Obama-Hand-to-EarPresident Obama jumped on the PR bandwagon yesterday by declaring that he will take 10,000 Syrians next year, too. His strategy is nothing more than an inadequate attempt to look like a decent person. he doesn’t have to shop for specific Syrians. He’s taking in so few, who cares?

So far the United States has only taken in 1,500. Yes, that’s the country which has been dropping a few bombs on Syria over the last few years. It’s the country with the highest GDP in the world and one of the lowest population densities in the world. If you made every single person in the United States go and live in New Jersey, including ALL the buildings and ALL the factories and ALL the farm animals too, they would STILL have a lower population density than ANY European country. Just saying.

RenziWhat about Matteo Renzi of  Italy? Renzi is in no position to go refugee shopping. As I said, Italy takes everyone. Italy has been handling this refugee crisis for five whole years already, and getting criticism from all the European countries whilst doing it, despite spending millions and millions of Euros with very little financial contribution from the EU.

By contrast with America, Italy has taken in 94,000 refugees so far this year, of whom nearly 7,000 were Syrians. Italy isn’t involved in any fighting in Syria or anywhere else, by the way. It is written into the Italian constitution that they cannot take military action against any other country unless it directly threatens to invade Italian soil.

All Renzi can do with the refugees is save their lives, dry them off and send them on. Few of them stay in Italy once they have their papers and permanent leave to remain, because they don’t get free Italian lessons, they don’t get free computer lessons, and even if they did, there are no jobs for them here.

I have read in newspapers written by Italians up north that the immigrants in Italy do the jobs the Italians refuse to do. So far, I am still trying to work out what those might be; I have never met a Sicilian who would refuse to do any job that paid money. I know several men who consider themselves extremely lucky to have been given jobs as bin men, even one who was only given part time work. Sicily is a place where MBA graduates feel grateful for a job as a bank teller and people with a degree in computer programming are happy to work as a removals man. (Those examples are based on two friends of mine.)

Italian citizens don’t get paid unemployment benefit. If you don’t have a job in Italy you have to live of the charity of a relative and collect food from the church. (Now do you see why the family is so important in Italy? North Europeans in a Welfare State can afford to cut ties with annoying relatives but Italians cannot.)

What does Renzi plan to do with the immigrants he has here in Italy? I think he has no plans other than to hold his head above water and keep praying that the rest of Europe will help him out.

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24 thoughts on “EU countries are “Refugee Shopping” to pick the refugees they want

  1. While the politicians are trying to protect their political hind ends, people around here (rural Cornwall) are collecting warm clothing etc. to send to Calais–which by now may not actually need it so it may be sent on to the front line refugee camps. It’s not the most efficient way to help, but it’s the outlet people have found, and even in its inefficiency it’s heartening. Friends have offered to host refugee families. Again, it may not be the help that’s needed, but it has helped pressure Cameron to at least make a gesture. Anything like resolution will take more than gestures, and I’m hoping the pressure will continue.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a really interesting post. I must say that in a way Merkel is being very smart even if in a way she seems to be causing widespread chaos in other parts of Europe. Germany is relatively underpopulated at least in comparison to the U.K. and Netherlands and its population is well known to be set to fall dramatically in the next 20 years.

    It’s interesting to see also how quickly East Europe has forgotten how in just 5 years they have gone from Second World nations to First World and yet seem to want even less to do with refugees than anyone else. I’m not blaming them at all but they all but begged to join the EU which brings responsibilities as well as opportunities and I’d have hoped they would be more generous to those poorer than themselves when they themselves have benefitted so enormously from the wealth and security offered by western Europe.

    I actually think Cameron is being very smart and it is what I would do myself (I don’t say that very often). Real refugees in the traditional sense escape with their lives and set up camp in the nearest safe country or region in Turkey, Lebanon or even safer parts of Syria itself. They don’t travel to Germany or Sweden with flashier phones and sometimes even newer clothes than I have…. not that I can’t claim to be very comfortably off in comparison to a middle-class Syrian.

    All of those in Calais are not what I call refugees, there are half a dozen or in the case of Afghanistan and parts of Africa, a dozen safe nations they must have crossed, including France but also including Egypt, Iran and the very rich Gulf States that have accepted no-one. Of course people haven’t fled to Saudi Arabia or China or Russia and they don’t want to stay in Turkey or poor Sicily as they want a new and as rich and comfortable life as possible and I don’t blame them for that. I just think we’re in our rights not to have them here just as much as they have the right to want to get “here”.

    Taking refugees from the camps means they do get the most needy and likely poorest which fits into the British eyes at least of who is most worthy and doesn’t encourage or reward anyone who is acting criminally trying to break into the country.

    Yes we have wide open space in Yorkshire and Scotland but England has one of the very highest population densities in the world and we can’t just keep on taking hundreds of thousands of people every year for the next 50 or 100 years. It’s fair to say that 99% of people who entered the U.K. at least would end up in even more overcrowded London or Birmingham or Manchester rather than Cumbria or Devon.

    I actually think Britain should take more refugees but I mean real refugees. Economic migrants though I think we should say no to and I feel generally Europe should do the same.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is the most truthful post I have seen and well-written – I wandered what it was like from Sicily where you have been getting boatloads of Migrants from everywhere since the economic crisis in the last 10 years. It is true what you say about Cameron here in Britain – he is all just about the image – it is so transparent. Of course we know about the lorries – but did not realise about the food waste.
    The public here mainly want to help the families, we have three families moving to my street alone – they are frightened that the fit good-looking men are ISIL infiltrators and we have too many immigrants who are like this already. Pressure should be put on the US and Syria’s neighbouring Muslim countries to take more refugees too.
    You may be interested to look at this magazine site when you have some time:


    1. There has been a lot of talk and a lot of worry about ISIL infiltrators in Sicily. So far I don’t know of any actual proof at all, so I don’t want to get into a big panic, but I do ask the question many do – why are there so many young men on their own? Where are the old people and the women and the kids?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It is creating a lot of resentment in some areas of Italy because the refugees do get a free place to stay and some money (very little but still something) whilst the Italians don’t. There have been some places in Northern Italy where unemployed and homeless Italians barged into refugee centres and demanded to be allowed to stay there and get the same as the refugees got – free meals and pocket money.
      It creates an embarrassing situation for the Italian government and one they MUST address. Beppe Grillo of the Movimento 5 Stelle is talking about this a lot, including on TV.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfortunately, the story about clever Merkel is not true.

    The asylum seekers arriving in Germany in masses, attracted by idiotic German social standards for “refugees” and Merkels illegal promise to keep all “Syrians”, have mostly no or only little education. 20% even analphabets (estimation). In the “refugee” camps there is sexual violence and violence against non-Muslim asylum seekers. Asylum seekers sing IS songs and show the IS flag.

    Many Germans are *very* angry about chancellor Merkel who acts again and again against law. Leftist groups and employees of the asylum industry are welcoming illegal immigrants at train stations as if they were a promise for a better future in Germany. Furor Teutonicus is uprising. There will be no good end. Not this time. Europe as we knew it before the Euro currency came is a dream of the past. The thought of Germany as a country of order is a joke considering the present.

    With Merkel we Germans start to have a problem we had so often in our history: How to remove her? General elections won’t help. German voting system and media system prevents almost completely alternative parties from entering the political system. The “Alternative für Deutschland” (kind of UKIP in Germany) has big problems to stand against the “you are Nazis” propaganda of ruling leftist parties and journalists.

    Meanwhile Merkel is phantasizing about giving jobs to all these immigrants, soon. Which jobs, Ms Merkel? Since Merkel introduced the minimum wages, we even cannot offer simple jobs like dish washing. And we even haven’t coped with the immigrants we already have. See here a movie about recent riots in Frankfurt of long-since “integrated” immigrants (they have the German citizenship but spit on it).

    Germany is literally running out of policemen. Whole city quarters in Berlin have no policemen available any more, they are needed now in “refugees” camps. In certain regions in Eastern Germany, privatly organized militia groups have come into being, because the police is not able any more to keep criminals in check.

    Europe has big problems, yet the biggest problem is Germany. Again, the Germans exaggerate an ideology and draw the rest of Europe into an abyss. After the Euro currency ideology which increased debts in infinity with no solution for souther problems, for no better reason than to say: “Oh look, dear world, aren’t we Germans good Europeans? We pay everything!”, now the mass immigration for no better reason than to say: “Oh look, dear world, do you can see that we good Germans are no Nazis any more?” And at the same time German newspapers started to call the rest of the world “Nazis” because they do not accept uncontrolled mass immigration, as Germany does. It’s simply nuts, and it will have no good end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did wonder about this actually – no country can take in numbers of immigrants beyond a certain amount each year, the time it takes to integrate and settle them.

      I didn’t know about the IS songs and IS flag being displayed . I did read an article on Bloomberg saying that the reason the Gulf States like Saudi Arabia have not taken in any refugees at all from Syria is because they suspect large numbers of them are actually ISIL infiltrators. It has ben talked abuot and owrried about in Italy and in Britain too.

      I think germans are still strongly restricted in what they can do by the need to prove they are not Nazis any more and I suspect it is gradually building up a lot of anger that may bubble over.


      1. There is a “Do you want total war” -like atmosphere in Germany these days. You are either for Merkel and accepting everybody as “refugee”, or you are a Nazi. There is nothing in between, at the moment. Newspapers celebrate the “unity of voters and government”. “Fight against hate” means, fight against any criticism. Hate comments in facebook against the situation are taken as the general opinion of dissenters. Newspapers write that “the” population of Frankfurt welcomes the “refugees”. “We” welcome them. And if immigrants commit crime, newspapers write that they are traumatized and need intensive care to recover, but no punishment. It is really an absurd situation. Like a propaganda atmosphere organized by Goebbels. And chancellor Merkel says: There is no limit for humanity (=let everybody come). And on the question of Islamization she says, that there is none, and if we do not want Germany to become Islamic, then “we” all should start to attend services in churches again. This woman has not understood what law is, what secularism is, what Islam usually means (with some exceptions). But she is our leader.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is something I have noticed about Germany – there are some debates that nobody is allowed to enter into, it’s just forbidden to talk about it.
        And it seems immigration is one of them.
        The established politicians in Britain were becoming somewhat like that, but then UKIP came along and suddenly everyone had to accept talking about these things.


      3. Therefore, I am supporting the German equivalent to UKIP. Yesterday, 9500 immigrants arrived in Munich and Munich had only 850 beds prepared. Germany reaches the limits of its organizational capacity. (At the same time German media run mad about Hungary and compare Hungary’s trouble with masses of immigrants with Nazi treatment of Jews.)

        The state governors started to openly criticize chancellor Merkel who runs mad in inviting more and more immigrants. Furthermore, the passengers of an ICE (German high-speed train) had to leave their train to make it available for immigrants: Those who paid had to leave for those who did not pay. This is Germany today. In the small town in the southern German province where I came from, already 400 immigrants are living in gyms. The German thoroughness does not spare one edge of Germany. And it’s only the start.

        And chancellor Merkel in a podcast gives neat advice to immigrant women that they please please please should not encapsulate in parallel societies. She lives in an other world.

        Not to forget the strong state-supported radical left which “demonstrated” violently in Hamburg all the night through. Radical leftist groups get money from the state in Germany, by styling themselves as Fight-against-Nazi initiatives which perform “projects” to reduce Nazi thoughts in population.

        Somehow the whole project of de-Nazification of Germany is now firing back very badly.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Merkel left the ground of reality already with the Euro politics. Greece will never pay back and Germany will have to pay the pledged money, smashing all Europe into a deep financial crisis as in the 1920s. It is only that you do not realize it at the moment. The absurd enforcement of the asylum crisis is maybe an act of desperation like Hitler in the Fuehrer bunker? — Do you have a garden on Sicily where you can grow potatoes? Could prove useful, soon.


      5. A lot of English people say that the real reason Merkel went to such lengths to keep Greece in the Euro, even after it was obvious that it would be better for them to leave, was because she’s building the 3rd Reich – through much more intelligent methods than military action. Germany already owns the lion’s share of Greek shipping – their core and only successful industry – and will end up owning even more still. She took over a lot of debt that the Greek government owed to various American banks and so now, they owe it to EU institutions and to Germany – so Germany will get those assets. It’s tragic for Greece but a smart move for Germany – Greece has now become Germany’s bitch!

        I do think she had a secret plan when letting in unlimited Syrians.
        “Just to be nice” is not how governments work, and “to prove we’re not Nazis any more” could have been achieved by letting in far fewer peolpe, not opening the doors to everyone.
        Today she has closed the doors, talking about “urgent security risks” which I suppose can only mean ISIL supporters.

        So now she can go to the EU saying “Look I did more than the rest of you and now we need to share them out equally”
        – in other words, gets what she wants by making the whle EU pay for this situation.

        If she is really smart, she will also lean on the EU countries that have close ties and a lot of economic interestes in Saudi Arabia, to try to convince Saudi Arabia to take a lot of the Syrians.


      6. Cite: ““Just to be nice” is not how governments work, ” — Arrrgh, except GERMAN governments! And the borders are *not* closed, now! It is terrible: Hundreds of German federal policemen are now at the borders … not to prevent anyone from entering, but to ***registrate*** everybody entering. This is not a joke. This is Germany in 2015. The story goes on …


  5. From NYT this week:
    Of the 155 migrants who survived the Lampedusa shipwreck, around 100 made it to Sweden. Because they first arrived in Italy, under European Union rules, they should have been fingerprinted and had their requests for asylum taken there. And they should have remained there while their applications were being processed.

    The failure of governments, wary of an anti-immigrant backlash as right-wing parties gain support, to follow these rules has now moved to the center of disputes between European leaders over how to handle the migration crisis.

    Migrants themselves have also undermined the rules. Ms. Agby, the 19-year-old Lampedusa shipwreck survivor who made it to Sweden, said she had been so desperate to avoid being forced to stay in Italy that she had burned a plastic bag and rubbed her fingers in the molten goo to make her fingerprints unreadable.

    Only one survivor of the October crossing, a young man who asked to be identified only by his first name, Tadese, got stuck in Italy, where his fingerprints were taken after he was hospitalized because of his injuries. The 50 or so other survivors mostly ended up in Norway, Germany and Denmark.

    Mr. Haile said he had nothing against Italy. But throughout his ordeal, it was the dream of reaching Scandinavia, famous among migrants for generous welfare and asylum policies, that kept him going.

    I fear this has 1000% nothing to do with “religious freedom, persecution, blah blah”
    and it is just trying to escape some crappy awful socioeconomically depressed country. Sicily should be insulted by people burning their fingerprints off so as not to stay there. The NYT also goes on to say that many of the migrants have cell phones and their families ask about the welfare benefits in Northern EU and how much is a used car. Hard to see where the truth of this situation is!! It looks like an economic disaster will erupt . Also, these “refugees” I bet (call me a cynic) will not socially integrate well into the EU. It’s just a guess. Recipe for more disaster! They are migrants and I feel a lack of honesty on motives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ve put your finger on one of the really major aspects of the problem right now. There are thousands of people who are truly refugees fleeing war situations, then there are thousands more jumping on the bandwagon hoping to slip into Europe with them. A Syrian man in Britain said he had met many people from Pakistan and Afghanistan who had entered Britain by throwing away their documents and claiming to be Syrian refugees.

      The fact that there are so many people determined to enter Europe, around half of whom are not refugees, is trying the patience of many European citizens right now. There’s also the fact that ISIL threatened to send in thousands of ISIL soldiers and indeed claimed they already have done so: it is claimed by a Bloomberg journalist that this is the reason Saudi Arabia and ther other rich gulf states have not taken in any refugees at all from Syria despite the fact that they are all Sunni Muslims and despite the fact that the Koran says on almost every page that all Muslims should extend the hand of charity to those less fortunate than themselves.

      As for choosing Sweden over Italy, there are lots of reasons. Imagine you are a Syrian asylum seeker.
      In Sweden, you have a 99% probability of getting your claim accepted, and when you do you will have a free apartment, a generous cash allowance, free healthcare and dentistry, and a very high chance of finding a job if you want one (though you won’t have to).
      Meanwhile in Italy you would have about a 60% probability of getting your asylum claim accepted and if not you will be flown back to the country you came from within 3 months, and if you do get accepted you will have a small amount of pocket money (not enough to live on), you will be able to stay in a shared dormitory, and there is 50 unemployment in Sicily so your only chance of finding a job will be to work your way to the north of the country and try to get employment as a cleaner or fruit picker.

      It’s no wonder they all want to go to Sweden (or Germany or the UK which have the same set-up) rather than italy. But as you say, it shows they are thinking about what they can get not simply about escaping bombs.


  6. The problem is population shift, something which has been a burden for Europe since Roman times and is unlikely to cease. The format is well established – so well, in fact, it is futile to resist it. Whether we like it or not, in the generations to come our national characteristics, customs and even religions will be subject to change. To the impoverished in search of wealth, an open border policy is irresistible and the thousands now will become millions in the years to come. And yes, we are admitting those thousands with no evidence of their intentions or proof of their identity, Refugees? If it is put about that we are assisting refugees suddenly everybody is a refugee. Convincing stories are easy to trade – if anybody wants one I’ll write it for them myself!

    There is an inevitability about this. We have opened the box and the lid can never be replaced. My fear is another equal inevitability: sooner or later someone, some overwhelmed nation or besieged government, will cease reasoning and start shooting. I don’t think anybody could want it to happen that way, but some of the comment I am reading here would seem to indicate that solution is very close.

    Liked by 1 person

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