Sunday, August 17, 2014

Refugees an Asset

By Stephen Wilson

(Moscow, Russia) - Second City Teachers spoke to an academic Maria Koroleva about the refugee crisis in Moscow.

             "At times the scale of the refugee crisis seems staggering! The number of incoming refugees grows relentlessly and on and on. Whereas the Russian Federal Migration service only a few days ago stated there were 500,000 refugees, a more recent United Nations report claimed the figure had now reached 730,000. It may well climb to one million as the civil war intensifies and wreaks more havoc with the lives of local people. In the city of Lugansk, local people are living without access to essential medicine, water supplies, electricity, food and places of safety from indiscriminate gunfire. Almost everyday you hear a report of some civilian dying from bombardment. Instead of pressuring the Ukrainian Government to stop slaughtering civilians in cities, Americans and N.A.T.O leaders are making public statements saying they will increase their support for the 'anti-terrorist actions' against civilians. It is almost as if they are not only condoning but actively assisting the Ukrainian army with arms, advisors
and support.

             Many Russians are wondering how they should respond to the war and how the government might cope with so many refugees just at a time when the economy is on the brink of a recession. Questions which torment them are 'Where can we house all those refugees?' 'How can we find jobs for them? ' Will there be enough Kindergardens for children?'

             For instance, at the moment a lot of refugee families have been placed in orphanages while the orphans have been away on Summer Holidays. What will happen when the orphans return?

             According to the Ministry of Education, 45,000 refugee children are thought to be in Russia, 6000 have already been placed in schools and 5000 will be provided with schools in the nearest future. Near the border regions of Russia education facilities have been prepared for an estimated 80,000 refugee children. They may have to even expand those facilities.

             In Kamchatka, the mayor initially organised accommodation for 160 people only to discover he needed to provide places for 780 people. Kamchatka lies in the Far East of Russia!

             I asked Maria Koreleva what she thought of the refugee predicament .

             How can Russia cope with such a huge influx of refugees?

             Won't it overwhelm her economy?


             I'm quite optimistic about how Russia can handle it. Yes, in the short-term the refugees will experience problems, 
but in the long-term they will solve them. Economists regard people as the main capital of any country. Even if you look at the costs of keeping refugees, they represent a bonus to Russia. Russia is short of people. She needs people.

             So I look on the refugees as being a very positive thing. We especially need them as Russia is short of young people. They won't have big problems adapting to the country because over 90% of them speak Russian and are identical to the hosts. In fact, Russia will get more and more people without costs. The biggest problem in Russia is that we don't have enough children and therefore tax to support pensioners. So pensioners are being asked to retire ten years later than when they usually retired.

             I would say the problems the refugees are experiencing are very temporary. The government always acts slowly but people will find away of resolving those problems.

             How will they solve those problems?
             Ukrainians have a reputation for being very enterprising and entrepreneurial. Maybe they will manage to do more things in Russia than in Ukraine. So I'm very glad the refugees have come. I think it is very good they are here. Getting material things will be easy for the refugees, but what they lack are links like people giving 'time' and friendship. There is a great loss of psychological links with people. Time is one of the greatest things people can give refugees.

             What do you think will be the main influence of refugees on the educational system?
             Refugee children will stimulate our kindergartens and schools. According to the Russian population census, (I can give it to you if you want), many kindergartens and schools are being closed down because there are not enough children. Now if refugee children come into some towns, they will provide jobs for school-teachers who have lost their jobs because of a shortage of children.

             The refugees can even help old people who require them to do chores such as the cleaning or shopping. Old people would be glad of their company because they are not only     lonely, but often fall prey to criminals who want to steal their apartments by forcing them to sign illegal contracts. Refugees could act as a kind of watchdog who protects old people from such criminals.

             So you think Russia needs refugees?

             We need refugees. It is important the refugees understand this as it is part of human nature to feel you are needed by other people. So we should welcome the refugees and tell them that we are glad they have come to us!

No comments:

Post a Comment