Update: EU Refugee Crisis
By admin October 1, 2015


Source: Reuters

The ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq as well as DAESH’s influence within the region has led to an influx of civilians fleeing to neighboring countries and to Europe. This has caused a global refugee crisis in which the neighboring countries of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have had to accommodate the refugees; while others choose to travel from Eastern Europe to make their way to the more powerful, Western European states. The influx of immigrants flowing into the European Union (EU) has revealed the lack of unification within the region. The EU is facing increasing pressure from the international community to increase the number of migrants allowed into each country as it continuously lacks the consensus to accept migrant quotas. France and Germany have consented to the migrant quotas, while Central European states, specifically Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are against it.

The Central European states’ reluctance to accommodate the refugees are attributed to their desire to protect state sovereignty and to prevent any disruptions to their smaller economies and territories. A rational argument against the quotas is that smaller, less successful economies are incapable of handling an influx of refugees vis-a-vis larger economies like that of France and Britain. Furthermore, they believe that the EU should protect its external boundaries, as they are the primary starting point for the refugees’ routes. Additionally, other critics attribute the Central European states’ historically right-wing political regimes and their predominantly Christian and white populations to the dissonance regarding refugees. Slovakia, for instance, agreed to welcome refugees, only if they are Christian. While Poland has also agreed to welcome a “symbolic” number of refugees, further supporting the ideological differences within the European Union. Although they are currently facing harsh criticism and increasing pressure from the west and the media, they have continued to inhibit the refugees from entering, and even going near their borders. Hungary’s creation of a razor-wired fence along its border is exemplary of the Central European States’ deep refusal to welcome the displaced families and individuals. In a recent incident, Hungarian police officers fired water cannons and tear gas at individuals and children on the Serbian border. In doing this, Hungary has exemplified itself as the main arbiter opposing accommodations for refugees within the region—neither granting them asylum nor allowing them to pass through their borders. The dissent among Central European states has most recently been expressed by protesters in Prague, in which, during an anti-migrant quota rally on Monday, September 28th, claimed that accepting migrant quotas infringe on the Czech Republic’s sovereignty. On the other hand, the international community, is continuing to play “diplomatic poker” around the issue as the US and Russia addressed the causes of the crisis and how to better manage the situation last Monday at the UN General Assembly.

The lack of unification and efficiency regarding the crisis in the EU, has not prevented states like Germany and Austria to accept the migrant quotas. Over the weekend, Austria welcomed 20,000 refugees. Additionally, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry announced last Sunday that the United States will be accepting 100,000 refugees by 2017, comparable to the current annual threshold of 70,000. In spite of such relief efforts, the United States’ decision to accommodate the influx of immigrants may not prove to inspire the Central European states to do the same. Currently, the immigrants are figuring out their own paths to reach their ideal final destinations to Western European countries.


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