What caused the refugee crisis? Obviously, no single factor is entirely to blame. There’s no shortage of reasons why the number of migrants and refugees entering the EU started dramatically rising around 2015. The arrivals come from different countries, and they each have their own reasons for seeking entry into Europe.
Many are fleeing violence. The top three countries of origin for people seeking asylum in the EU are Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq; all three of those countries are facing protracted insurgencies (or even outright civil war). Somebody coming from Eritrea, however, is more likely to be running from that country’s brutal dictatorship. Refugees from Nigeria might be trying to escape Boko Haram. And, of course, there are also economic migrants who are trying to break out of poverty and seek a better life in Europe.
Some of our readers blame the West for that violence. We had a comment from Daniel blaming “Western geopolitics” for destabilising the Middle East and North Africa. It’s certainly true that the intervention in Libya led to the collapse of central authority there, and the resulting chaos has been exploited by people smugglers. President Obama called the West’s failure to prepare for the aftermath of the Libya campaign the ‘worst mistake’ of his Presidency.
Likewise, it’s possible to argue that a series of Western policy failures in Iraq after the 2003 invasion led directly to the collapse of Mosul, when over 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and security personnel abandoned the city to as few as 800 ISIS militants. Others have argued that the policy of Western governments to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels has backfired spectacularly.
We recently had the chance to interview HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Chairman of the West Asia – North Africa (WANA) Institute. He was speaking at an event organised by Friends of Europe in Brussels, looking at the root causes of the refugee crisis. What would he say to Daniel?
We also had a comment from Irmeli, who believes that population growth is the biggest driver behind the refugee crisis. We’ve already looked at environmental issues and whether climate change might have played a part in the recent refugee crisis, but what about overpopulation? Population growth in the Middle East and North Africa has been faster than in any other region of the world for the past century. Is this sustainable?
How would HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal respond to Irmeli’s comment?
Is Western geopolitics to blame for the refugee crisis? Has population growth contributed to political instability? Or has climate change been one of the the main drivers? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions.