The migration crisis hit a symbolic milestone in December 2015—according to the International Organization for Migration, European governments have accepted 1 million Syrian refugees and others from the Middle East and Africa.
The reasons these displaced people are fleeing—war, persecution and poverty—offer many topics for a research paper, as does how the European governments have handled the migrants’ desire to be granted asylum.
The fact that European governments have taken in 1 million people in the ongoing migration crisis may be purely symbolic, but it does offer a chance to evaluate how the influx of Syrian refugees and others looking to be granted asylum has been handled. The International Organization for Migration released the figure, as of December 21, 2015. Why that number is significant, and why the issue can be labeled a migration crisis, is because the total is four times higher than it was for 2014.
According to “IOM: Over 1 Million Refugees, Migrants Enter Europe in 2015” by the Associated Press on The New York Times, December 22, 2015, many of the people are Syrian refugees, about 50 percent. Of those seeking asylum in Europe, many are crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Italy or the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece. Of particular interest for a research paper is the reason The New York Times gave for the influx of Syrian refugees: “The war in Syria was particularly key in driving the numbers of people moving into Europe to levels not seen in half a century. European governments have struggled to agree on a response, arguing about how welcoming they should be and how best to manage the flows.”
Handling of the migration crisis
Unfortunately, with the influx of Syrian refugees and others from the Middle East and Africa has come a great deal of criticism for how the European governments have handled the migration crisis. Many have become fearful of the large numbers of people asking to be granted asylum and have begun closing their borders. Meanwhile the crossing alone has been extremely dangerous, taking the lives of more than 3,500 people.
Matteo Garavoglia posted on October 5, 2015, on brookings.edu, “Why Europe can’t handle the migration crisis” with three main points about the mishandling of the situation by European governments. First he cited the financial resources needed to handle the influx of people is presenting a challenge for Euro members still reeling from the recession. Garavoglia wrote, “Secondly, migration is a topic that often stirs particularly conflicting perspectives across different domestic political environments. Finally, migrant movements present logistical challenges that individual countries can seldom effectively address.” A research paper could look at previous mass migration crises and how they were handled.
It isn’t only the European governments that are struggling with all the requests to be granted asylum, the refugees themselves are struggling with feelings of resentment. Mirren Gidda addressed this issue in “Europe’s Forgotten Refugees; Resentment Is Building among Refugees in Europe as European Governments Make It Easier for Syrians to Stay” for the October 9, 2015, issue of Newsweek.
Mirren wrote, “The other side of the migration crisis is the feeling that Syrian refugees are receiving preferential treatment over those from other Middle Eastern countries and Africa.” This means that Syrian refugees are being granted asylum without a lengthy waiting period, unlike migrants from other countries. Some trying to enter Europe are even using fake Syrian passports as a result.
How could European governments be handling the migration crisis better? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.