In the ‘Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy’ the ultra computer "Deep Thought" was given the task of finding the meaning of life, the universe, and everything and after thousands of years gave an answer: 42. When queried the computer replied that the problem had not been not truly defined and the ultimate question had to be found to understand the answer. We are now seeing this logic applied to the question of migrants and refugees.

From displaced persons to boat people

After World War Two the term “displaced persons” was used to describe refugees from the war and after the Vietnam War the term became “Boat People”.

Now many politicians call them “illegal immigrants which seeks to avoid dealing with the origins of the international refugee crisis.

At the same time, many persons around the world are seeking to use the refugee crisis dramatic increase to find entry in the United States, Europe, and other countries. This exodus has seen uncounted deaths in the oceans and caused civil strife in countries that are hosting the new arrivals.

Refugees are not illegal immigrants

Years ago the Australian government invented the term “unauthorized maritime arrivals” to attempt to justify their internationally criticized treatment of refugees seeking to enter the country. Now Donald Trump uses the word “immigrants” to define Moslem refugees trying to enter the U.S.

At best both terms are fallacious and deliberately misleading.

Under the U.N. treaties, refugees cannot be considered illegal immigrants and the signatory countries are obliged to follow a strict protocol to identify legitimate refugees. Indeed, Italy which is the first European port of call for the new “Boat People” has the protection of refugees as part of its national constitution.

Once identified as refugees or migrants the authorities must then follow the appropriate national and international law to ensure that the individual cases are handled ethically and correctly. Sadly many countries are now trying to avoid these obligations at a great price on human lives and national honor.

Elimination of the causes for the refugees

The only true solution to the world's refugee crisis is not to label all refugees as illegal immigrants, or to claim, as some politicians do, that they are all potential terrorist threats to the new host countries. The only true and long-term solution to the refugee crisis is to end the conflicts that force people to flee their homelands and to do so as quickly as possible.

This is what the world’s superpowers have failed to accomplish. All too often we have seen trouble spots around the world become festering sores which cause millions of people to flee national borders. With the possible exception of the Balkans in the heart of Europe, the many interventions have been stop-gap measures to avoid public outcries, or the international forces have left the troubled countries in a state of turmoil which ensured further crises as has happened in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Neither of these is an answer to the crises.

We have seen these failures of world diplomacy carry on over decades and the deaths of the people risking the seas to find a life of peace is proof of the incapacity of the superpowers to overcome their national agendas rather than work closely with political opponents on problem-solving. Photos of drowned children on the international media have stirred public consciences, but they have done nothing to end the diplomatic gamesmanship that has ensured that people are killed in conflicts every hour of every day.

The international community must be prepared to take the nettle by the thorns and undertake whatever steps are required for the definitive resolution of these trouble spots.

This is the true challenge for incoming President Trump and the other world leaders. Changing the words used to describe the victims of these conflicts is not a solution; quite simply it is a cause of shame for the entire civilized world.