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Europe's Migrant Crisis: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
September 30, 2015

Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers cross into Europe each day. Without increased aid to the front line states in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, more engagement from other nations, and a plan to integrate the influx of new arrivals in Europe, the crisis puts European traditions of free movement to the test, says Edward Alden, CFR’s Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow. He offers three things to know about Europe’s migration crisis.

Migrants and Refugees: “It is misleading to call this a ‘migration crisis,’” says Alden. Millions of people fleeing from Syria and Iraq, nations in a state of war, make it “primarily a refugee crisis,” he argues. Refugees are also coming from Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Core Principle Challenged: Under the latest plan, only 120,000 migrants will be resettled, much less than the total number of people seeking asylum. Member states like Hungary and Croatia are building fences to stop travelers, demonstrating division within the EU on how to respond to the humanitarian crisis. The divide threatens to “undermine Europe’s tradition of open borders and free movement of people,” says Alden.

Global Response Required: “[The European migration crisis] should be seen as a global one, yet other nations are not stepping up,” says Alden. Front line states are not receiving enough aid to meet the needs of the refugees and other nations have to accept more refugees, he adds.

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