UPDATE 09/03/2016: The EU has agreed the general outline of a deal with Turkey to address the ongoing migrant crisis. As part of the “one in, one out” plan, all Syrian asylum seekers arriving in Greece from Turkey would be automatically sent back, and in return a Syrian already in Turkey would be resettled in the European Union. The hope is that this will reduce irregular migration to the European Union (where asylum applicants are often undocumented), and instead encourage a more ordered approach, with applicants first processed in Turkey before even arriving in the EU.
However, there are still big question marks over the deal. Will Turkey want tangible progress towards EU membership in return? Will all 28 EU Member States agree? And is it a breach of international law to operate the type of automatic return policy being discussed? Especially to a country that is not a full member of the Geneva Convention, and which only one EU member – Bulgaria – considers a country of safe return?
ORIGINAL 16/02/2016: “We are living in the age of the mega-crises”. Those are the somewhat alarming words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but when you look at the figures it’s easy to see what he means. Despite a record $25 billion being raised from generous donors in 2015, we are seeing “125 million people in need [and] all-time-high numbers for the amounts of money requested through humanitarian appeals”.
A recent report suggests that the world is facing a $15 billion shortfall in financing for the various humanitarian crises that are playing out across the globe, including the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. One of the objectives of the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May is to address this financing gap (something that the UN argues is an achievable challenge in a global economy worth $78 trillion).
But can the global community really cope with an age of mega-crises? In the midst of a global economic slowdown, are we seeing “donor fatigue”? We had a comment sent in from Paulos arguing that the refugee crisis is pulling the EU apart and damaging “our humanitarian values”.
In January, our partner think-tank Friends of Europe hosted an event with EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva looking at the question of humanitarian financing. Commissioner Georgieva is a Vice President of the European Commission and Co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. From 2010 to 2014 she was EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. Did she think that the ongoing refugee crisis was eroding humanitarian principles in Europe?
Next up, we had a comment from Marc pointing out that the EU is (taken as a whole, including Member State aid budgets) the single largest donor of humanitarian aid on the planet.
With the rise of developing countries such as China and India, did Kristalina Georgieva expect this situation to change? Should developing (and newly-developed) economies start contributing more to humanitarian financing?
Finally, we had a comment from Mrs C asking why it is always a small number of EU countries, such as the UK, that contribute the most in terms of national humanitarian aid budgets. Shouldn’t other European countries step up to the plate?
Is the refugee crisis eroding Europe’s humanitarian values? Should developing countries contribute more humanitarian aid? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!