How Will Europe Cope With The Refugee Crisis?

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Written By Gholam Rahmani

European politicians are struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees sweeping across borders from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Well over a million people are expected to seek asylum applications by the end of 2015 – a big increase in last year’s massive total of 800,000 applications.

Governments are taking different approaches to the crisis – some are effectively turning a blind eye and shipping the refugees through their borders to the next, while others, such as Hungary, are trying to heighten security.

At a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels this week, billions of pounds were set aside to try to tackle the crisis by easing the conditions in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The key questions are when does a migrant become a refugee and what happens to the migrants once they reach Europe?

Frontline nations

The frontline European Union nations handling refugees are Greece and Hungary.

Hungary says the Greeks are doing too little to protect the borders and questions whether all the migrants are refugees as when they reach Turkey to cross to Greece, they are out of danger of persecution by the Islamic State and are removed  from the conflict in the Syrian civil war.

Many politicians argue what is really happening is an economic migration by people seeking a better lifestyle rather than a flight from danger.

Stefano Scarpetta, Director of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs explained that the European economy is still performing poorly and the migrant issue is a humanitarian crisis of increasing concern.

“Governments have to look to the long term as well as addressing the current crisis,” he said.

Global policy

“Children have to be schooled, homes provided and jobs found for displaced families. While this is going on, we have to look at what might happen in the future.

“Europe is already taking as many permanent migrants as the USA each year and the trend looks like this will increase.”

Migrants are not only coming through Greece, says the OECD, but Malta, Italy and Spain.

“Landings by migrants crossing the Mediterranean are already more than 80% up on the same period last year,” said Scarpetta.

“Images of children and older people dying in their efforts to find a new life are powerful and remind of that many of these migrants have faced tragedy in their lives.

“This shows how important a global strategy for dealing for migration is important and that we should learn the lessons before us.”