Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2015 Contents B13
Monday, August 31, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
• From Page B12
Only members of the latter group are likely
to be granted asylum in Europe.
By and large, European leaders refer to the
Mediterranean situation as a migrant crisis,
not a refugee crisis. British Prime Minister
David Cameron in July talked about "a swarm
of people coming across the Mediterranean
seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain
because Britain has got jobs, it s got a growing
economy, it s an incredible place to live."
His choice of words was widely criticised
by human rights advocates as offensive and
UN officials say a vast majority of the
137,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean
into Europe in the first half of the year were
fleeing war, conflict or persecution in countries
including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
"It s simply inaccurate to talk about Syrian
migrants when there s a war going on in Syria,"
said William Spindler, a spokesman for the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "People
who flee war deserve sympathy. So by not
calling them refugees, you re depriving them
of the sympathy and understanding that the
European public has for refugees."
Still, European officials say using refugees
as a blanket term isn t technically accurate
either. Many of the West Africans arriving in
Italy, for example, may not be fleeing for their
lives but instead be seeking better ones in
European countries with much higher stan-
dards of living.
"I can sympathise with Al-Jazeera s
approach, I guess what they want to do is put
a human face on the situation," said Fredrik
Beijer, legal director of Sweden s migration
authority. "But from our point of view, it s
simple, people who are on the move across
the globe but who haven t yet applied for asy-
lum, to us they are migrants."
Once a migrant applies for asylum, he or
she becomes an asylum-seeker, Beijer said.
The agency uses the word refugee only when
the claim has been approved and a person
receives refugee status.
The Associated Press has no blanket policy
governing when to use the terms, but strives
to be as specific as possible in describing the
circumstances of people included in stories.
The BBC said it judges each story on a case
by case basis because "it is not always clear
cut whether some migrant groups already have
refugee status, are seeking asylum, looking for
work, the stage of their journey, or whether
they will try to enter a country illegally."
National Public Radio tries to use "action
words rather than labels," said standards editor
Mark Memmott. "But when we felt that a
label would help tell the story, the general
label of migrant will describe everyone in the
Fusion, an English language TV network
that targets a multicultural audience of young
adults, also deals with the issue case-by-case,
"just as we do with stories about people seek-
ing to come into the United States," said Laura
Wides-Munoz, director of news practices.
Some experts note that using either term---
migrant or refugee---in a blanket manner
doesn t capture the situation of people who
don t fit neatly into either category or who
belong in both.
For example, many West Africans moved
to Libya for work, but found themselves at
the receiving end of violence, threats and
extortion by militias, criminals and security
forces as the security situation there deteri-
orated, said Ruben Andersson, an anthropol-
ogist at the London School of Economics.
"So how do we refer to people who may
have left their country to look for work, but
who end up in a country where they cannot
go on living because they are facing all kinds
of threats and even repression?" he said.
In the end, it s important not to be blinded
by terminology, he said. "We are talking about
people. It astounds me how much time we
spend on getting the terminology right, which
obscures the fact that people are drowning
on the borders of Europe." (AP)
'People who flee war deserve sympathy' UN officials say a vast
majority of the 137,000
people who crossed the
Europe in the first half
of the year were fleeing
war, conflict or
persecution in countries
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