The Global Refugee Crisis in Europe
Gypsy: Camille Pegram
The current refugee crisis in Europe is an emotional mix of relief (for refugees) and apprehension (for non-migrant citizens). According to BBC News, in 2015, more than a million refugees crossed the European border , while some sought solace in neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon. Still, nations everywhere (including the United States) are struggling to accommodate such vast arrivals. The International Organization for Migration states that last year approximately 34,900 refugees escaped by land and 1,011,700 by sea. The majority of refugees are fleeing from Syrian conflicts; others are escaping the chaotic violence and political instability of their own countries in the Near East. It’s an issue of controversy for many, but one that merits global discussion from politicians and citizens alike.
Before we can begin to address other aspects of this crisis, we must first and foremost recognize the unimaginable circumstances under which refugees are subjected to. The Syria’s conflicts started during a period of anti-government demonstrations among disenfranchised citizens known as the Arab Spring. When the Syrian government countered these protests, war began. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil wars in March 2011, more than 11 million Syrians have managed to seek refuge elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands have perished due to the violent uprisings. Clean water, food, and medicine are readily available to most fortunate inhabitants, but to displaced citizens, these basic necessities are few and far between. Travel is another dangerous factor. Not only must refugees endure harsh heat and rugged terrain, but those traveling by sea are succumbing to the restlessly violent Mediterranean, risking their lives for a chance at peace. And if it wasn’t enough to have lived through the traumatic effects of violence and social unrest in their own countries, many immigrants are experiencing xenophobia from the nations they are escaping to.
For instance, Muslim refugees fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria have become widely discriminated against due to constant misrepresentation in Western media, which commonly depicts Muslims as extremists. In places like England where the Islamic population has soared in recent years, refugees constantly struggle between newly found freedom and discriminatory practices. There’s no doubt that the unfortunate events of September 11th as well as the current threat of terrorist organization, ISIS has led to such unfortunate prejudices. However, we must keep in mind the millions of innocent suffering individuals who are trying to evade those very circumstances.
Next to the Syrians, Eritreans make up the 2nd largest portion of migrants crossing into Europe. Motivated largely by their strong objections to conscription , according to the UN, about 5,000 citizens flee to other countries each month; these countries include the UK, Italy, Germany, Norway and Sweden.
The current refugee crises reflect a classic humanistic dichotomy: man’s need for power vs his/her right to freedom. When repression becomes institutionalized, we immediately respond in either one of two ways: by revolting or starting anew elsewhere, but the real beauty of humanity is in our natural inclination to move forward by any means necessary.