European Refugee Crisis: Trends and Developments
By admin March 2, 2016

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In the last five years, and with the intensification of the Syrian crisis, the EU has found, once again, its proximity and its shared fate with the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) nations. European build-up after World War II, with the assistance of American capital, for a brief moment brought a massive institutionalization, and a general convergence in the region. During this time, the illegal migrations from MENA had been reduced to a problem in population management. Today, this issue lies at the heart of the European Union’s fate.


From October 2014 to October 2015, the top 10 countries with the highest number of asylum-seekers in the EU have sent more than 750,000 people to other countries in Europe. More than 250,000 of these migrants enter from Syria. The rest come from the South, Balkans and Africa, or the East, South/Southwest Asia or Eastern Europe, trough 5 paths: from Morocco to Spain, through Italy or Greece via Mediterranean Sea, through Macedonia to Greece, or through Ukraine. The passage of the migrants through two of these five paths have dramatically increased in the last couple of years. These increase routes are through the Eastern Mediterranean and is complemented by the Western Balkan route. The vast majority of the migrations end up in Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, Austria and France. To put these routes in perspective, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that out of more than 1 million migrants who arrived to the European countries, only 35,000 reached Europe by land. However, it is important to note that tracking migrant movements on land is much more difficult than tracking migration by sea.


Donald Tusk, the European Council president, mentioned that the number of migrants who arrive at Greece hope that they will move on from Greece to other European countries. The numbers of asylum claims in the EU supports this statement, showing that the wealthy European nations sweep the highest number of claims in the region. An average of 2,000 to 3,000 new refugees enter Greece from Turkey every day. Greece, facing overstretched and depleting resources, has asked EU for 480 million Euro in emergency funds to help it accommodate up to 100,000 refugees. Caroline Haga, of the International Red Cross Federation, reiterates Donald Tusk’s assessment that the refugees “are determined to leave; they absolutely do not want to stay in Greece.”


It is important to highlight two upcoming long-term trends in Europe after the catastrophic developments in the Middle East in the recent years. First, Europe will be even more organically connected to the East. With the influx of populations from various cultural and social environments, the diversity, contradictions, and tensions among different social groups might increase. This means that, even if we can successfully find a solution for the Syrian problem, the assimilation and accommodation of the incoming population can pose serious challenges to European states. Secondly, it is impossible not to notice how the inequality between Europe and the rest of the world, or even between European countries themselves is reflected in the paths and destinations that refugees seek. It is unlikely that, after a possible Middle Eastern peace and the return to a state of normalcy, these migrant populations will find their way back home. Those who skip Greece for a better standard of living in Germany will not return to a destroyed Syria: economic development ultimately determines the “homeland” in the modern age.


For more information:

Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts

European leaders demand urgent support for Greece

Refugee crisis to lift European growth

Crisis looms as a new wave of refugees reaches Europe

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