Unsolved migration crisis causes European darkness
Unsolved migration crisis causes European darkness
As the Middle Eastern refugee numbers rise in Europe, certain European countries are warring over the unequal distribution of refugees in each European member state and struggling to form effective policies to equalize the level of refugees in each country.
“Most refugees who arrive in Greece see it as a stepping stone to reach other countries. They transit through it because it has one of the closest external borders to the Middle-East”, said Stella Nanou, a Communications and Public Information Associate working at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece. “However, they don’t intend to stay in it. Instead, Sweden and Germany are the two leading European countries that receive them.”
Although Greece has the most entries of asylum seekers at an astounding 87,000 in the beginning of July 2015, only 5,115 of these asylum seekers submitted an application to seek asylum in Greece, according to the UNCHR. The Dublin Convention forces asylum seekers to submit an application in the country they entered into. However, the situation in Greece is vastly different: the country is used as a transit system towards Germany, Sweden, Italy, France and Hungary (the countries receiving the largest amount of asylum applications) instead, according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.
“There is currently an uneven distribution of asylum seekers in the EU. A common asylum system must be based on trust and sustainability. It must also be truly in practice,” said a spokesperson for the Swedish Ministry of Justice in the Division for Asylum and Migration Policy. “ It is vital that we come up with a European response of solidarity, both towards each other, in the EU, and also those in our protection.”
Currently, asylum applications are left individually to each European member state. Whilst Germany and Sweden are struggling to process their large application numbers (200,000 pending applications for Germany and 81,000 in Sweden in 2014), other states such as Hungary and Austria are resorting to extreme measures to significantly reduce the migration influx that occurs in their countries.
Hungary is building a 175m barbed wire, steel fence around its external borders to trap thousands of migrants or refugees coming in from Serbia and Macedonia, according to the Financial Times Europe. In the recent Brussels Summit on June 24, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also declared that Hungary will be sending back all the asylum seekers it received from other European member states, like Greece back to their original entry state. Austria, on the other hand, threatened to reinstate passport checks on its borders with Hungary to ensure Hungarian asylum seekers wouldn’t be able to enter into its borders or attempt to file an asylum application there.
As for Britain and France, an ongoing blame game is being played: French port authorities at Calais are blaming UK border authorities for the increased asylum seeker flow, whilst the UK attempts to find a way to negotiate with France to add more border security and dogs, according to Reuters US.
“We believe that the EU and its Member States should develop a comprehensive and sustainable migration policy and make efforts to shift the public discourse on migration to show its benefits for economic development and growth,” said Blanca Tapia, a Press Officer for The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. “Immigration schemes should also consider the contribution, in terms of talent and skills, that persons in need of international protection can give to society.”
Refugees that flee to Europe are predominantly of Syrian nationality or hail from Eritrea or the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia). Most of these refugees flee from persecution and seek a country that possesses better integration, employment and living prospects.
Recognizing the cause of the refugee influx into Europe, the European Commission has decided to step in to prevent European countries from resorting to extreme measures to reduce their refugee count. The Commission recently decided to relocate 40,000 people in need of protection from Greece and Italy, as well as 20,000 other asylum seekers who have moved into another European country from their initial entry point. Despite the positive impact of this decision, human rights agencies like the UNHCR feel the EU member states should still address the root cause of this displacement to resolve the European migration crisis.
“More work needs to be urgently done to increase safe and legal avenues for refugees to reach protection in Europe, without having to resort to smugglers and dangerous voyages,” said Stella Nanou, a Press Associate at the UNHCR.
The European Commissions’ latest agenda (May 2015) seems to be attempting to address the issues Nanou has highlighted. Firstly, The European Commission plans to dedicate an extra 50 million Euros to resettle 20,000 asylum seekers into European member states, based on each states’ unemployment rate, size of population, GDP and past numbers of refugees. Furthermore, additional EU Delegations and migration liaison officers will be funded to cooperate with host countries, such as Turkey to locate the sources of asylum seeker displacement. The Commission also plans to revise its legal framework on migrant smuggling to combat human trafficking.
However, these are all currently, merely, agendas. They haven’t been promulgated or established yet. With the rising numbers of refugee numbers into Europe, all member states will have to leave their issues to the side and actually attempt to collaborate and solve this major migration crisis. If they don’t, Europe faces the possibility of facing a bleak future of migration problems, conflicts between member states and bouts of discrimination.
Dakshayani is currently a freshman at NYU, majoring in French and Journalism, with minors in German and English Literature. Raised in Malaysia and Australia, Dakshayani enjoys exploring gender roles across various cultures and meeting people who are passionate about the arts.