Understanding the European Migration Crisis

Notably the largest migration crisis since the close of the Second World War, the current influx of migrants from the Middle East to Europe is currently the largest challenge to the continent. A number of war-torn, poverty-struck nations introduces the issue of where refugees can move, and how other nations will accept them.

It is important to first understand the European migration crisis in its entirety, including both the migrants themselves and the legal doctrines that make up migration law. The migrants are mostly Syrians fleeing their country's civil war, Afghans looking to escape the ongoing war with Taliban rebels, and Eritreans fleeing forced labor – largely, the refugees come from war-torn nations and seek security in the Eurozone. 

However, migrants are not permitted to reside in any European Union nation under the Dublin Regulation, which stipulates, “Asylum seekers must remain in the first European country they enter, and that country is solely responsible for examining migrants' asylum applications” (Jeanne Park, Council on Foreign Relations). Thus, the combination of a constant flow of migrants and the terms of the Dublin Regulation create problems for border nations wherein most asylum seekers first arrive. Increased pressure is placed on nations to either accept the migrants or forcefully close the borders and reject them.

Respecting basic rights of asylum seekers is a principle associated with international human rights law. The 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (United Nations 1948), and, furthermore, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” (United Nations 1948).  Because the basis for international human rights law outlines the right to asylum and the right to life, those seeking refuge in European nations should be guaranteed such rights. However, inherent problems exist within properly accepting these migrants. 

In short: the current migration crisis stems from Middle Eastern migrants seeking refuge in Europe. Legal stipulations, namely the Dublin Regulation, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cause further problems for European nations looking to limit the number of migrants coming in. There is no current solution to the crisis, but some countries have moved toward unique approaches. Germany, for example, has enacted a policy that accepts more migrants and pushes for an open-border zone, while border nations, such as Hungary, have built barbed wire fences to deter migrants. It will be interesting to follow the progression of the European migration crisis, in hopes that the European Union will eventually promote unified policies to aid the migrants. 


*Cover image from express.co.uk