Date: Sun, 1 Mar 98 18:15:30 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: ‘One In Three’ Europeans Admit To Being Racist
Article: 29082

/** ips.english: 480.0 **/
** Topic: MIGRATION: ‘One In Three’ Europeans Admit To Being Racist **
** Written 3:14 PM Feb 28, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

‘One In Three’ Europeans Admit To Being Racist

By Niccolo Sarno, IPS, 25 February 1998

BRUSSELS, Feb 25 (IPS)—Nearly one out of every three European Union citizens describe themselves as ‘quite racist’ or ‘very racist’, according to an opinion poll conducted at the end of last year's European Year Against Racism.

One in five also agrees with the view that all non-EU immigrants should be sent back to their country of origin.

Padraig Flynn, the European Union's commissioner for social affairs, says he is extremely concerned by these shocking statistics.

During the European Year Against Racism, the 15-member EU spent 3.5 million dollars on 177 anti-racism projects.

Yet 20 percent of respondents agreed with the following statement: All immigrants, whether legal or illegal, from outside the European Union and their children, even those born here, should be sent back to their country of origin.

A quarter of respondents said that, to be fully accepted into society, minorities must give up their own culture.

And when asked whether there is a limit to the number of people of other races, religions or cultures that a society should accept, 65 percent argued this limit had already been reached in their country.

The survey tried to identify the causes of this hostility. Many of those who admitted to racist feelings said were dissatisfied with their life circumstances and feared losing their jobs. Most felt insecure about the future and/or had experienced a downt urn in their personal circumstances.

The EU-wide survey revealed some paradoxes. People who described themselves as racist also said they strongly believed in democratic systems of government and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

The development of a ‘multicultural’ society was welcomed by three-quarters of those interviewed, with 86 percent opposing any discrimination based on a person's race, religion or culture.

And according to 71 percent of those polled, EU authorities should make efforts to improve the situation of people from minority groups.

European Parliament member, Aline Pailler, who last week presented a report on human rights in the EU here, said the EU still needs to establish specific rights for immigrants and asylum applicants.

Pailler criticised the ‘repressive’ nature of many EU laws on immigration and asylum, both already adopted or being drafted, and attempts to redefine ‘refugee status’. She said the EU must respect basic rights itself before it can credibly attach human r ights conditions to bilateral agreements with non-EU countries.

The rights group Human Rights Watch says that the trend towards increased restrictions on the right to asylum in the EU continued in 1997, with many EU member states implementing new restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

In its annual world report Human Rights Watch points out that most asylum claims in 1997 were either deemed manifestly unfounded or, if the refugee has escaped to the EU state via another country not his or her own, the responsibility of a safe thi rd country—one of the countries on the way.

This can force asylum seekers into a cycle of ‘chain deportations’—where the refugee is moved back home, country by country, appealing for refuge in vain in each one.

The risk of chain deportations from one country to another grew in 1997 as EU member states negotiated an ever-widening web of readmission agreements, committing their neighbours to readmit illegal aliens, without any specific provisions for the protec tion of asylum seekers and refugees, says the NGO.

The rights group also warns that detention of asylum seekers was widespread in the EU last year. Because of difficulties in enforcing deportation orders, many foreigners languished in European detention centres for months.

The British pressure group, Campaign against Racism and Fascism (CARF), said in its annual report released last week that the number of refugees and asylum seekers who died after seeking help in Western Europe almost halved in 1997 compared with 1996. 41 immigrants and refugees died in 1997 against 81 in 1996.

CARF says the figures reflect the fact that ‘Fortress Europe’ is increasingly turning away would-be migrants.

The number of asylum-seekers reaching Europe has dropped drastically... and the number of rejected asylum-seekers being ferried out of Europe has increased, said the pressure group.

CARF's Liz Fekete also said that 223 people had died trying to reach Europe during 1997. Most of them, she said, drowned at sea after attempting to make the journey from North Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in leaky boats.

Around 11 million nationals of non-EU countries live in the EU and account for three percent of its total population. Most of them live in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Nearly half of the immigrants come from other countries in Europe, especial ly Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. The Maghreb countries—Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia—account for one fifth.