North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Migrants on the run - to Israel, to China, back to Romania

When we think of illegal immigrants, we naturally think of our US/Mexico border. A few incidents this week reminds us of borders and desperation elsewhere.
North Korean jet wreckage in China
Perhaps the most unique or non-stereotyped instance happened when a pilot of the North Korean air force yesterday tried to defect to China. Experts aren't exactly sure of the pilot's motive,as he was killed when attempting to land, but apparently it isn't the first time military personnel have attempted to flee, nor the first pilot. Imagine how much of an elite this young man was in a country of such deprivation, that not only was he trained to operate a multimillion dollar machine, but fed, clothed, and set up to live at a level far above the average North Korean. Still, China looked better than his future in his own country.

The next rather surprising desperate effort was the attempt by African's to enter Israel, through Egypt's harsh Sinai desert peninsula earlier late last week. Apparently thousands of Africans see Israel, in spite of the country living with rocket attacks and hostile neighbors all around, as a far better choice than their own homeland. And hundreds of Africans seeking political asylum or jobs in Israel try to sneak across the border each year, helped by Bedouin traffickers who charge up to $1,000 for the trip. Dozens have been shot dead by Egyptian border guards. Two of those who escaped Friday's clash were killed by Egyptian guards at the Israeli border, according to medical and security officials. In a separate incident, a woman attempting to illegally cross the Sinai border into Israel was also shot by Egyptian security forces this past week. The wound was not fatal, and she and seven others were arrested for deportation.

I don't know the politics of this particular border. It may be that Israel and Egypt have outlined in detail the efforts that must be taken to keep the border from becoming porous. I don't know the reception given by Israel for those who cross the border successfully. But we can be sure that there are many people trying to get into that tiny Jewish state. Border between Egypt and Israel is a lethal one at least on one side.

Finally, French politics are entering a season of electioneering, and with that comes action by the leadership to show its effectiveness. President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the dismantling of 300 illegal Roma and travelers' camps last month in a crime crackdown after urban riots in two cities, one involving an attack on a police station by Roma. Now by mid August, 51 illegal camps have been dismantled, and a first charter flight escorting 79 Roma to Romania on a voluntary repatriation scheme will leave on Thursday, August 19. Another flight is scheduled for August 26.

The action however, is complicated by European Union rules. Both France and Romania are EU members and EU rules allow free movement of citizens, the right to travel, work and settle in any country of their choice in the 27-nation bloc. Indeed, France cannot stop anyone sent out from returning after their repatriation. In addtion, an EU official stated, "If a state is deporting anyone, we must be sure it is proportionate. It must be on a case-by-case basis and not an entire population,"

There have also been rather alarmist outcries characterizing the roundup of gypsies as akin to rounding up Jews in WWII, but at a more thoughtful level, critics and Romanian officials have expressed their concerns that such actions stir up xenophobic attitudes that take on a life of their own.

The Roma, of course, have always been a population known for ignoring national borders, and living a lifestyle obstinately unique to themselves. What we probably won't see is a Roma effort to move to and live in countries that have a harsher justice code or border security protocols. Roma watch as their camp in France is dismantled.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Interesting. I hadn't thought of anyone trying to sneak into Israel this day and age. And the fact that the Egypt/Israel border is so deadly... I'd like to know more about this...