Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. In the first half of 2015 alone, almost half a million people crossed into Europe by boat, a 175% increase from the whole of last year. The largest group are Syrians fleeing their country’s brutal civil war, but there are also others fleeing wars in Libya and Afghanistan, or poverty and humans rights abuses in Eritrea, Somalia, and other sub-Saharan African countries. Meanwhile, political instability in Libya has been exacerbating the crisis, allowing people smugglers to operate freely. What should Europe do?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Mike, arguing that European governments need to react decisively: “This is a humanitarian crisis. Winter is coming. Do we want to see children dying of cold on the streets of Europe?”
How would YOU solve the EU’s refugee crisis? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
GUE-NGL, the group [in the European Parliament] that I’m a member of, has produced guidelines for an alternative policy on migration. And we’ve based those guidelines on human rights and solidarity, because we reject without doubt the repressive approach to immigration. We believe that Europe has a historical duty to develop a more comprehensive and reasonable migration policy that guarantees human rights.
Well, we’re now doing short-term humanitarian aid, giving people that arrive in Europe shelter; but what we need to do for the long term is look at labour migration. Europe is an aging society, and we’re surrounded by countries with very young populations. That is actually a very attractive match. We need to stop thinking that we can’t cope with migrants, and we need to understand that we should actually invite them.
The refugee crisis will only be solved if the root causes are being solved, and that means the instability in countries like Syria, Libya, and others. So, I think that we as a European community really have to invest more to create peace in that region. That’s the only way to fundamentally solve the refugee crisis.
Secondly, I think that we as Europe have to try to do our best to make sure that people fleeing from war or political refugees recieve safe harbour. We should welcome them here and, maybe until the situation has stabilised, give them the possibility to find a new life here.
Thirdly, you need to have clear rules about who can enter and who cannot. And people who are not eligible for political asylum should be sent back. So, strong frontier protection is also important, and we need to find a common strategy to deal with economic migration.
The ongoing migrant crisis has caused many human tragedies and continues to do so. In my opinion, Europe must provide for more legal ways to access the continent, in order to avoid the illegal traffic of human beings and the death of thousands of migrants travelling unsafely. It is also important to apply the principle of solidarity set in the Treaties and, in this connection, to provide for a permanent and compulsory mechanism of relocation.
In the long term, Europe must strengthen its cooperation for development programs within the countries affected by this phenomenon. Related to this, we must immediately stop the sales of arms to the countries involved in regional conflicts and civil wars.
Curious to learn more about Europe’s refugee crisis? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger image):
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Michael Grubl
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