Counteracting Xenophobia, European Style

Story by Delegate of National Public Radio, Isaiah Winnettknoy

Hello and welcome, you’re listening to NPR, and I’m Isaiah Winnettknoy reporting from the Council of Europe. I’ll be sitting in on this debate and asking key questions & some of the important delegates as their strategies to counter a long-term problem in Europe, Xenophobia. Xenophobia, or “intense or irrational fear of other people based on their country of origin, (Merriam Webster) has been seen all over Europe throughout history, and during the Refugee Crisis in the modern day is no different.

But a particular alliance of European powers, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Norway, and Spain has shone important light on the subject of Xenophobia and refugees with their plan, RISE. I spoke with Alex Noe, representative of the United Kingdom. He tells us, “The plan speaks for itself, instead of forcing beliefs down Europe’s throat, it shows the potential of the refugees so people can come to the conclusion themselves.” Delegate of Spain, James Dunn also elaborated on RISE. “The main point of this is to prove to the European People refugees aren’t bad, they aren’t going to steal their jobs. We’re going to prove that these fears Europeans have about refugees aren’t actually founded. Because that’s the root of Xenophobia, fear.”

On progress the bill will introduce, James continues, “our goal to fund education, to fund housing, to basically help refugees become parts of the European economy.” But with all ideas come differing ones, and the main competition seems to be a bill, spearheaded by Belgium and Ireland. But the team at RISE has outlined reasons why their bill is superior. James Dunn explains, “The main difference between the two is that they believe they can bring about the social change we desire by forcing countries to take in refugees and accept these policies. Forcing free education, forcing these countries to accept refugee policies sounds great in principle, but all it’s going to do is create a more reactionary state, and that’s what we want to get away from.” This point is extremely important, because forcing beliefs too harshly could disrupt and ruin the whole progress.

RISE’s plan sounds like a logical and subtle one, but Belgium and Ireland feel that their bill, AAA, is sturdier and better suits the situation. I interviewed Irish delegate Sophia Ramcharitur on her creation. “Triple A stands for Aid, Awareness, and Adaptation. We’re focusing a lot on the integration of refugees. The main threats are family verification, border transparency, and mental health of refugees.” She also mentioned that “Europeans need to uphold refugees’ human rights,” which is easier said than done to maintain. Another this I noticed were many amendments and strikethroughs made to the AAA bill, s it’s unclear how much of the original bill will be left. But ultimately, it will be this convention of diversely opinionated people who decide the fate of this controversial subject. This has been Isaiah Winnettknoy from the Council of Europe, for NPR.