The refugee crisis is far from over. The overall number of people seeking asylum in Europe in 2016 is predicted to be slightly lower than last year, but still represents almost one million people.
Rather than stopping migrant flows, the walls and fences that Member States have been putting up have encouraged migrants to take more dangerous routes into the EU. Over 124,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, more than the whole of 2015 combined. An estimated 3,212 people have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016.
On Thursday 15 September, we hosted – together with Euronews – a live YouTube interview with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. We asked our readers to vote on the issues raised during the interview they would most like to debate in more detail, and the refugee crisis overwhelmingly won.
During the interview, German YouTuber Jonas Ems asked President Juncker what ordinary Europeans could do to help refugees. Here’s what he had to say:
Juncker argued that Europeans can best help by remembering their own history. He argued it was important to remember that, historically, “Europe has been a continent of emigration. If you look at McDonalds, You’ve got more McDonalds in America than in Ireland or England.”
We assume he means the family name, not the fast-food chain. President Juncker also added that ordinary people can help by showing compassion for refugees, and remembering that they are human:
[Europeans have] got to remember why people are fleeing… What would you do if your children were being bombed, and your house was being bombed, day after day? Would you just sit there and wait until a bomb falls on your house? Or would you also attempt, for the sake of your children, to do something and to move somewhere else?
How can people best help refugees? Have Europeans forgotten their own history of emigration? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!