Updated: Jul 13, 2021
The nations that covered the area of ‘Arab Springs’- Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain, and Algeria witnessed mass public outrage in the early 2010s. This was a result of a series of events that took place in these countries individually. In broad speaking terms, the change of leadership, fall in the standards of living, several anti-government movements being born and radicalized organizations beginning their reign led to mass destruction, violence and displacement of millions of people from their homes.
(The Schengen Agreement was an agreement signed by European countries to abolish their borders. Germany and France were the pioneers of this agreement. It allowed free movement of its citizens internally. Later other members of the Union joined. Border controls were temporarily re-introduced in some countries in the light of the events of the European Migrant Crisis.)
Europe always had a ‘deep-rooted’ interest in the region. Its agenda after watching closely the uprisings was to vouch for democratic institutions which it did even till 2019. Due to the eruptions of the Civil war in Syria- citizens were prompted to leave the state and migrate to the prosperous Union across the Middeteranian.
The influx of migrants in the islands of Greece and Italy had tremendous pressure on the countries. The migrants travelled in boats in hundreds passing through the dangerous sea while some preferred the Balkan Route that is considered the doorway to Europe through Turkey. The former is dangerous and causes countless deaths. To make things simpler,easier and less traumatizing for the migrants who have been escaping a state from oppression, torture and dictorial leadership, the Union announced to come up with ideas to limit the death toll in the Middeteranian. They also added to their agendas to resettle the individuals who are in desperate need of international protection and urge for the different methods/ways they can reach the Union.
By 2015, 1.3 million individuals had applied for asylum in the region. According to various reports, the number suggests that this very migration is considered to be larger than the one seen post World War II. Earlier that year, in May, the European Union signed the first package of assistance and many families were relocated from Greece and Italy. Various surveys and research on European Union’s policies over the years with their implementation and European’s opinions suggest that people were not happy and worried about the growing radicalization and terrorist attacks in the region if the refugees were to be integrated.
Germany had the maximum number of refugees. The country predominantly has a senior population. They laid down short-term plans to help the refugees integrate with German Society. But there were barriers - different languages, resentment towards refugees etc. Refugees could avail themselves of vocational courses and learn the German language. However, the job opportunities and educational seats are given to the refugees were still low. Other countries like Switzerland and Hungary too faced public backlash on the influx of refugees by their citizens.
There were incidents reported in Calais, France where the migrants and the police force engaged in violence. The region is a short passage to Great Britain where most of the refugees were aiming to go. The response of the Union to the refugee crisis was one of the main reasons that triggered Brexit. The Union also made several separate meetings with Turkey. Their agendas hardly materialized due to the military coup.
The countries in the union shared varied ideas/thoughts on the crisis. Some wanted to take back the controls over their border, some wanted a fair distribution of the migrants, while some supported the anti-immigrant sentiments. Saving this population (in millions) was essential as they would eventually fall prey to exploitation and oppression by extremist organizations. But this had a dramatic economic impact on European countries as they were recovering from the European debt crisis.
2018 saw a sharp decline in the arrival of illegal migrants. However, in the ports of Spain, an influx of 58,000 migrants arrived mainly from morocco. It was reported that 57 percent of refugees that had arrived in Greece lived in Urban spaces. Italy had a shift of power to a right-wing political party that passed a bill making it easier to deport migrants. In March of 2019, European Union chief, Avramopolus Dimitris, declared the migrant crisis as over. He further mentioned that the migrants and issues related to them remain at the top agenda for the European Union.
During the pandemic, Greece saw an influx of migrants again coming in boats. They were placed in asylum camps where they were quarantined. The number of residents staying in the camps exceeded the limit it could hold. Countries like Tunisia suffered economically due to the global pandemic. The reported arrivals in Europe increased in 2020 in comparison to the numbers seen in 2019. Some countries extended their rights and public health access to migrants. While some countries like Greece and Malta had engaged in ‘pushbacks’ at sea. Many countries failed to take adequate measures to control violence and take care of the asylum seekers reaching their ports. The commission signed and passed laws to limit discrimination and Xenophobia in the region.
Migrants are increasingly vulnerable individuals. They are escaping nations where they are facing oppressive behaviour from directorial leaders, radical regimes and foreign armies. It makes them vulnerable to join hands with radical organizations and be brainwashed in training camps. However, there is an even greater possibility of men proclaiming to be teenagers entering the asylum camps, the possibility of radical organizations deploying sleeper cells and taking accountability of attacks in megacities of Europe. Taking the humanitarian aspect of the crisis into account- the ability of these nations to have an open border for these vulnerable individuals comes with a price.
What is your opinion on the crisis? Comment Below!
The above article was constructed using the following sources:
All images (excluding the topic cover) have been taken from google images. Other designs have been taken from Canva.
1. Arab Springs
2. Timeline Of The Crisis
4. Germany’s Response To The Crisis
5. Clashing With The Police
6. Schengen Agreement
7. UN Ground Report, 2018
About the author
The author of the above article, Mehak Mathur, is pursuing the Bachelor Of Strategic Communication and Journalism degree at Mumbai University.
“My main motive is to provide people with factual and relevant information and hope to ignite their passions, help them connect with one another conducting insightful discussions and see the bigger picture.”