Many countries in Europe are facing a crisis. They have allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and other countries into their country as an act of humanitarianism. Some of the refugees behaved badly and caused problems with the locals.
Looking at the videos, I am surprised to see that many of the refugees came from Africa. Most of the videos showing the bad behavior of the refugees involved this group. I thought that the problem was with the war in Syria. How are the Africans involved among the refugees?
The European governments faced a dilemma. They have to deal with a humanitarian crisis and show compassion towards the genuine refugees who are freeing the bombs, shootings and fighting. But other people from the poorer countries, who are not affected by the war, are joining in the bandwagon to enter into the European countries for their welfare and a better life.
The Singapore experience
In the 1970s, there were boats of refugees freeing Vietnam. Some of them wanted to land in Singapore. The Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, was far sighted. He refused entry to all of them. His reason was - Singapore is too small. We are not able to accommodate large numbers of refugees into our country.
The few refugees that entered Singapore were confined into a refugee camp and were sent to third countries who were willing to accept them. The refugees were not allowed to become part of the society.
This may seem harsh, but it was necessary. Mr. Lee foresaw that a soft attitude will encourage more refugees to brave the seas on their flimsy boats to come to Singapore.
Lesson from Singapore
The European countries could learn from Mr. Lee's approach. If the refugees enter into the country, they should be allowed temporary refugee in special camps that are secluded from the local population. After the end of hostilities, they should be sent back to their home countries.
Some of the refugees can apply to be allowed permanent residency. This should be handled according to their eligibility and their ability to integrate into into the host countries. It should be separate from the humanitarian factor.
I hope that the approach taken by Singapore in the 1970s could be useful to the European countries in dealing with the refugee crisis.