From inside, Europe doesn’t always feel like a rich continent. Unemployment is still high, and people everywhere are struggling to make ends meet. The bitter election being fought in France recently has brought that feeling to the fore. Yet, compared to the rest of the world, the quality of life is good in Europe.
Is it unreasonable, then, for Europe to also help people fleeing conflict and persecution as refugees? Over 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted in the developing world, so the EU is not being asked to shoulder a disproportionate burden. Does Europe not have a moral duty to help those in distress?
In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.
This week, we’re looking at Gdańsk. Poland is the sixth-largest economy in the European Union, yet average wages are still half the EU average. Despite this, Gdańsk under Mayor Paweł Adamowicz has positioned itself as a city in solidarity with refugees. How did they manage this? And how have citizens reacted?<Curious to know more about refugees and citizens? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
We had a comment from Alex, who does believe that Europe has a moral duty to help refugees. However, he believes Europe also has a greater duty to its own citizens. Are these two obligations in conflict with one another?
To get a response, we spoke to Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of Gdańsk. What would he say to Alex?
We also had a question from Muscas, who believes the moral duty to help refugees doesn’t lie with Europe, but rather with Middle Eastern countries neighbouring Syria. What would Paweł Adamowicz say in response?
Does Europe have a moral duty to help refugees? And is there a conflict between helping refugees and helping your own citizens? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!