Free «The European Refugee Crisis» Essay

The European Refugee Crisis

The refugee crisis is one of the key human rights issues in Europe today. Thousands of people try to enter the European Union (EU). On the one hand, people that managed to enter Europe normally live in poverty and suffer from discrimination. Hundreds of people die on the way to their final destination. Policies and activities of the EU seem to be ineffective because health and wellbeing of refugees have been extremely deteriorating. On the other hand, there is an opposition against migrants among European population and their governments. Thus, some of them claim that migrants are not real refugees because they do not have a subjective fear of persecution. Therefore, migrants should stay in their own countries and build a better life there. This paper defines the term “refugees” and analyzes the current debates about this term. Besides, there will be a discussion of different factors causing the refugee crisis. Finally, the paper researches possible solutions for the crisis. The European refugee crisis is a complex issue, so different approaches should be used to address it. The solution should consider the interests of the UE citizens and migrants.

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Definition of Refugees

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), refugees are people who had to leave the country of their nationality due to fear to be persecuted for their religion, race, nationality, and belonging to some social group or political views (Goldenziel). Refugees cannot return to their home country due to fear, so they are forced to ask for protection from other countries. Besides, individuals without a nationality can also be defined as refugees if they are outside the country of their prior habitual residence due to fear of persecution and do not want to return there. This definition is vague and does not cover all people searching for protection outside the county of their nationality. Therefore, there is a number of debates about producing new instruments of international law to defend more than 30 million of displaced individuals, who cannot receive the “refugee” status (Goldenziel). The discussions about the definition of refugees are particularly intense now due to the current refugee crisis in Europe.

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Factors that Intensify the Human Rights Issue

In 2015, Europe completely failed to assist millions of people, including children and females. Thus, the EU did not respond to acute humanitarian and health needs of resettled people arriving at its borders (Ostrand 255). Moreover, the policies of the European countries have led to increasing refugee crisis and deteriorating of the wellbeing of refugees. Despite the risks of death, people from North Africa continue to come to UE borders because it is the only way for them to survive. Their attempts to reach Europe are normally illegal and risky but this does not stop individuals from trying to reach the developed countries. Thus, about one million people came to Greece from January 2015 to March 2016 (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). In addition, many people arrived in Europe due to the conflict in Syria. By the end of 2014, more than seven million people were resettled within their home country and more than three million left Syria in search of a better life (Ostrand 255). Some Syrians decided to stay in neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. However, the number of refugees is so significant in the region so that Syrians are actively seeking for help from the European countries. Although Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other European countries tried to protect Syrian refugees, their assistance was not very effective and significant, as compared to the help provided by neighbors of Syria. Besides, some people try to move to the United States. However, this country has extremely strict process for refugee entry, so it accepts only 1% from the world’s refugee population (Pope). If there are some doubts about security risks, people lose their chances to obtain refugee status. 

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There are many reasons of low effectiveness of EU’s policies and actions. First, there are very few legal ways of reaching European countries safely because the EU prefers restrictive policies (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). Therefore, refugees are forced to use the help of smugglers, which is not only illegal but also life threatening. Second, the Europe does not have enough resources for searching and rescuing African refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, which leads to numerous deaths. Third, the urgent closing of borders and lack of coordination between European countries have led to increasing stress and worsening conditions for refugees on their way to the desired country. The Médecins Sans Frontières (MAF) noticed the domino effect after closing borders, particularly each time when thousands of individuals were left in no people’s lands with limited humanitarian help, they had to use more dangerous routes or accept the help of smugglers (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). Besides, allowing transit across the Balkans is not effective enough. However, it still remains the only real response to the crisis. The disadvantage of the “Balkan road” is the inability to satisfy medical and accommodation needs of people, causing numerous human resource issues.

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Apart from that, Europe does not have practical solutions for numerous groups of refugees. Today, European countries have accepted only about one million individuals, which are only approximately 2% of EU’s population (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). Despite this fact, European countries are facing refugee crisis. Instead of improving policies and activities, the UE tries to improve border control in transit countries to prevent refugees from coming to Europe. For example, it holds talks with Turkey, as it is one of Syria’s neighbors.  

It is unfair to blame only Europe for refugee crisis. Many people coming to the continent are not real refugees. Thus, many of them are just immigrants who search for a better life but not in no way escaping from persecution in country of their nationality (Traub). Besides, some individuals do not want to integrate into European refugee system. They prefer going to countries where their families or friends live. For example, they often choose Great Britain and Germany because these counties are heavily inhabited by people of their nationality and migrants do not need to study a new language or learn about local customs.

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Another important fact is that many people are not coming from Syria. For example, French refugee camp La Linière does not have any Syrians (Traub). It had been noted that many of the camps’ inhabitants were affected warfare. In addition, resettled people disagree to go to countries the authorities tell them to. This is against the rules because refugees cannot choose the place. Therefore, many people just use war in Syria as the reason to immigrate to wealthy countries. Moreover, they sometimes have very high expectations from Europe and do not want to act according to current policies and laws.

My Opinion

Although some arguments against refugees are absolutely justified, it does not mean that the EU should ignore the issue. Thousands of people are risking everything they have to enter Europe because they search for safety, so it is cruel to blame them for these natural needs. In addition, migrants continue to face danger even after crossing a border. The most vulnerable group of refugees is children. Unlike adults, they cannot find a job or protect themselves in their country of nationality. Therefore, each child needs a protection, and his/her rights are ensured by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“Migrant and Refugee Crisis in Europe”). In addition, UNICEF reports that protection of children is in the interests of the EU because children and females have more risks to be involved in “trafficking, abuse and exploitation”. If these groups of refugees or migrants do not have any documents, they become even more vulnerable.

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Another important factor is the life of refugees in European countries. Despite all the existing restrictions, thousands of people enter the EU and face discrimination and poverty (“Migrant and Refugee Crisis in Europe”). These people cannot integrate into the society, so some of them start to demonstrate aggressive behaviors or commit crimes. This situation happens because European countries are more focused on protecting their borders than on protecting human rights on their territory. Besides, there is a lack of coordination and cooperation between European countries. Thus, Germany and Sweden are more active in protecting refugees than France and Spain are. This clearly leads to opposition in the most “generous” countries.

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The Policy Recommendation

The only way to deal with sufferings of migrants and refugees is to protect them and provide assistance because the European governments cannot ignore the human rights issue through closing their borders. People will eventually reach Europe using illegal ways. The first policy recommendation is to create safe and legal channels for individuals searching asylum. For example, the EU should allow people to apply for asylum outside of the borders and add such legal channels as family reunification, humanitarian visas, and a reduced number of visa requirements (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). The second recommendation is developing legal channels for migration. This would allow reducing the popularity of smugglers and dangerous routes among the potential migrants. The third recommendation is searching for the ways of saving people from the sea. For example, the UE services should search boats with migrants closer to places of their departure. The boats should be able to provide medical care and make the necessary assessments. This policy would help to reduce a number of victims from North Africa. The fourth recommendation is increasing investments into the reception of people. Currently, the EU devotes more attention to preventing migrants from the border crossing. The focus should be changed. In particular, Europe should treat people according to EU standards (“EU Migration Crisis Update - March 2016”). The particular attention should be paid to the needs of children, who are the most vulnerable. The fourth recommendation is creating efficient mechanisms of relocation inside the EU. One or few countries cannot deal with all refugees, so the EU should find the ways of redistributing people across the country. For example, the US considers family and medical considerations (Pope). Thus, people with relatives in some country can be placed there.

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The UDHR defines refugees as people who left their own country due to persecution. This definition is not supported by all experts because today there are many millions of resettled people. These people cannot receive protection, but they do need assistance due to lack of safety in their home countries. European refugee crisis also includes this issue because many individuals from North Africa, the Middle East and Asia come to Europe not due to fear of persecution but in a search for better life. The EU is currently focused on closing their borders for migrants. This policy does not address the problem because people start to use illegal channels of entering the EU. Many of them die at the sea or in other dangerous routes. Even if they cross European borders, they still face problems and need assistance from the European countries. The main recommendation for the EU is to create legal ways of entering the continent. This approach would reduce the number of victims among migrants and would help them deal with smugglers. In addition, the EU should reach agreement about relocating migrants across different countries. This would help people to integrate into the society and fight against poverty and discrimination.

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