A crisis with no solution in sight

Most European countries have not fulfilled their commitment to refugee resettlement. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Celia Foppoli

Refugees are victims of forced displacement. These are people who live in a country at war or are in the middle of a conflict and, in exceptional cases, find themselves forced to migrate to a place with better conditions.

Today, the biggest conflict in the world is the Syrian war which, since 2011, has caused 370,000 deaths, 6.6 million internally displaced people and 5 million civilians to flee the country.

Besides creating a severe humanitarian crisis, these conflicts generate migrant displacement that affects neighboring countries as well as the countries where they move to.

International law protects refugees through the Refugee Convention, a legal document ratified in 1951 with the purpose of guaranteeing their safety. However, the increase in asylum requests has exceeded expectations and has not been easy to manage.


The Failure of the Migration Agreement

One of the most delicate times in Europe was during 2015. More than 400,000 refugees had applied for asylum in May and more than one million exiles arrived up until December. Turkey and Germany were the two countries who received the most refugees.

This chart shows the countries who received more refugees in 2016 and 2017.

To confront this problem, countries of the European Union (EU) agreed to receive and resettle 160,000 of the refugees arriving on the Greek and Italian coasts. They had until late 2017 to do so.

Refugee quotas were established and each country was responsible for accepting a specific number of refugees in its territory, assuring their legal rights and the possibility of starting a new life.

Ultimately, the agreement failed. At the end of the term in September 2017, just over 40,000 out of the 160,000 refugees had been relocated. The only country to meet the committed quotas was Malta, followed closely by Finland and Ireland.

From then on, the impact of the refugee crisis along with the aftermath of the economic crisis have boosted nationalist political movements and parties, who reject the arrival of immigrants and refugees.

Additionally, United States Presiden Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border to avoid immigrants crossing into the country. Xenophobic speech has also made its way into Europe and has been present in various parliaments.

Feature developed in collaboration with the Faculty of Communication and International Relations Blanquerna-URL

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