The Big Picture – Refugee crisis in Europe: Why is it ballooning?
Tens of thousands of refugees have been pouring into various countries in Europe from various west asian countries, mainly from Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan. This migration is mainly to escape from destruction and death in these war torn countries and find a suitable place to reconstruct their lives. Being seen as the one of the biggest human tragedies of the decade, this has assumed an international dimension, as pressure is building up on europe to accommodate these exodus of people. Germany and Sweden are the most preferred destinations for these helpless refugees. However, after having allowed for few weeks, Germany has now decided to stop the infiltration. Some european countries are showing unwillingness to accommodate these refugees.
The refugee crisis ballooning in Europe is now considered by the United Nations to be its greatest since World War II. The crisis is also because of political instability, conflict and poverty in Africa and some Middle east countries. Sometimes, these migrants meet with a horrible fate. Countries such as Italy and Greece are also receiving the bulk of these refugees. In last one year, these two nations took in more than 200,000 people. Europe’s porous borders have also enabled many to move freely into other countries. Desperate migrants have attempted to enter Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, with the help of smugglers.
Syrians, displaced by the brutal fighting that has wracked their country since 2011, are the largest group among those attempting to reach Europe. Including those displaced within the country, more than half of Syria’s population has been uprooted since the war began, and Syrians are almost single-handedly driving the recent uptick in displaced people around the world.
Now, the onus is on European Union to do a better job of handling what has become a major humanitarian challenge. EU should extend its efforts to include better housing and processing of asylum seekers. Uniform standards followed by all E.U. countries would help. The lack of political consensus among members of the EU on handling the crisis has led to rise in populist resistance to migration and growth of anti-migration parties. The challenge for Europe is clear. If it cannot deliver the goods within the framework of consensus, it is in deep trouble because the immigrant crisis is bound to crash into the Euro crisis.
The public attitude towards migrants has shifted significantly and politicians in many countries are now under pressure from their electorates both to accept more refugees and to help forge an EU-wide solution to the crisis.
Supporters of the mass migration say that migrants are a welcome boost for Europe’s flagging labor force. In Germany, there is a high demand for workers trained in mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology. While migrants could help boost the labor force, there are fears among more cautious observers of the migrant crisis in Europe that many migrants arriving from the Middle East and Africa are not skilled or educated, and therefore could be burden on state’s pressed public finances. Anti-immigration groups claim that an influx of migrants will put further pressure on public services such as healthcare, housing and education systems.
Britain has adopted a different stance towards the refugee crisis from that of other EU countries, emphasising that Syrians should be resettled directly from camps, rather than accepting those who come to the UK after travelling through Europe. This divergence has led to tension among EU nations, threatening the prime minister’s plans to renegotiate the terms of UK membership of the EU ahead of a referendum by the end of 2017.
Other proposals to tackle the problem:
- Immediate humanitarian aid to refugees travelling within the EU or near its borders
- Full funding for UNHCR emergency budget
- Prima facie refugee status for all Syrian applicants in the EU
- Overseas asylum-processing centres
- Make the Mediterranean safe
- Increased resettlement to the US and Canada
- Appoint a Special Representative for Human Rights in Migration