Recently, conflicts in Africa and the Middle East have resulted in an influx of unwanted migrants into Europe. Thousands have found their way into the continent looking for a better life, but after they arrive, they often find themselves unwelcome.
Leaving their native countries affected by war and violence, they come to Europe in hopes of a better future. For many, their lives end before they are even able to experience the bleak future many migrants find themselves thrown into.
Traffickers and criminal gangs take advantage of migrants by charging exorbitant rates to be shoved and crammed onto boats. Hundreds of migrants lose their lives at sea. The overcrowding on boats combined with dangerous weather often ends in tragedy.
Although the loss of life has been reduced by rescue operations, the U.N. estimates that over 170 people have lost their lives from the beginning of this year to May while attempting to reach Europe.
While the majority of the migrants are men, the increased number of migrants has brought more women and children to Europe. On May 20, Italy rescued approximately 500 migrants, 100 of which were children.
Italy in particular has felt the pressure of migration. Over 62,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year. Calls for aid from other countries to help manage the situation have largely gone unheeded. Slovenia offered one ship to help last year.
Bureaucrats in European countries receiving all these migrants struggle to process the requests for asylum or refugee status. Almost 435,000 people applied for asylum in Europe last year.
Increasing migrant numbers has caused right-wing political parties to make real gains in European elections and consequently, anti-immigration policies have been put into place and the borders of the European countries have tightened.
Unwanted migrants are left wandering Europe and left wondering if the destruction they left behind is any different from their experiences in Europe. Once discovered huddled in camps, migrants are forced to disband on any number of charges and are forced to find another place to rest.
The European Union’s home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstroem, is pushing for a change in Europe’s approach to the situation. She is calling for a plan to resettle “refugees directly from the camps outside the EU” and to open new legal channels so that refugees can come legally.
Until a larger joint effort is made to handle the migrants, the issue will continue to fester and radicalize politicians in Europe. The increased levels of migration have caused tensions between the European countries and made a larger effort unlikely. Ultimately, as European countries individually attempt to solve the refugee issue, unwanted migrants suffer as they leave one desolate place for another.
— William Ying
Sources: Aljazeera 1, Aljazeera 2, LA Times, NPR, The New York Times, Reuters, The Verge
Photo: Deutsche Welle