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Western powers mainly responsible for refugee crisis, should do more

When boats packed with refugees capsized in the Mediterranean, resulting in countless deaths, Western powers ought to acknowledge their responsibilities for the tragedies, and should do more to embrace the hopeless.

Once again, the world was shocked and saddened last week when at least 105 refugees were drowned and another 100 are still unaccounted for after an overburdened boat heading for Italy sank off the Libyan coast.

The heartrending news came only months after a similar disaster that claimed more than 400 lives in April in waters along the North African nation's coastlines.

According to the UN estimates, more than 300,000 refugees and migrants have ventured to cross the Mediterranean into Europe so far this year, with some 2,500 people perishing along the journey northward, a huge increase from last year.

Watching the dead bodies of the so-called "boat people" being washed ashore, as well as tens of thousands of lucky refugees who have made it to the continent demanding shelter and asylum, the Europeans are really on tenterhooks.

While they are busy issuing deportation orders, they should not forget that the refugee crisis they are now working so hard to cope with is largely the creating of themselves and their big brother -- the United States.

According to the Eurostat, EU's statistical office, Syria, which has been mired into full-blown civil war for the past four years because of persistent Western intervention, ranks atop the largest source of refugees bound for Europe in both 2013 and 2014. In the first half of this year, the war-torn country still topped the list.

Yet even to this day, the United States has still been systematically arming and financing the Syrian rebel fighters. Despite Washington's official claims that it is trying to prop up the rebel groups to battle the expansion of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, its intention to topple Syria's President Bashar Assad has never been a secret.

Like Syria, the rest of major refugee-producing nations and regions, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, are also the victims of ruthless Western interference.

And Libya, now the focal transit for refugees to embark on their "death route" to Europe, has been struggling with a de facto split-up and a state of anarchy since the United States and some European nations oversaw the downfall of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. That means the governments on the opposite side of the Mediterranean sea should not, at least for the moment, expect that the North African nation can help control the exodus of refugees.

In fact, Europe, which has been grumbling over the influx of refugees, is not the destination that has hosted the largest number of the displaced people. Other countries such as Lebanon and Turkey have taken the gravest brunt.

Lebanon now shelters some 1.2 million refugees from neighboring Syria, while Turkey has since 2011 received about 2 million homeless Syrians.

The large number of Syrian refugees has put unimaginable stress on Lebanon's finance and public service system, while the international community has so far fallen short of its promise in offering assistance to the country.

If overburdened Lebanon, which has tightened up its grip on the border crossings with Syria, can not get what it needs to handle the refugee crisis and is forced to completely shut its door, more displaced people are expected to enter Europe for shelter.

To turn around the thorny crisis, the West should have done more to clear up the mess they have left. However, the real situation on the ground is not that encouraging.

For the moment, major European nations are still trading blames, and focusing on how they can stop the inflow of illegal migrants and refugees, instead of embracing them. They have also failed to reach any viable agreement on how many refugees they are willing to receive.

In recent days, Germany has taken a step forward, announcing that it will allow Syrian refugees to stay and apply for asylum. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged other European nations to show stronger solidarity in facing a crisis she described as an even bigger challenge than the Greek debt storm.

Germany's move is laudable, and other Western countries, including the United States, should follow suit so as to truly honor the spirit of humanitarianism and human rights.

For the starter, the Western powers should boost their maritime rescue missions so that those who are already drifting on the sea will not have to fear for losing their lives.

The West should also help restore peace and stability in countries like Libya and Syria, which is the ultimate remedy to the refugee crisis.

If the Western powers fail to act quickly and decisively, they will have to deal with a much worse boomerang-like problem in the future than what they are facing with today.

[Source: By Xinhua Writer Liu Chang, Xinhua, Cairo, 30Aug15]

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