The so-called “migrant” crisis of Europe has dominated news this year ever since hundreds of refugees aboard dilapidated vessels died in the Mediterranean Sea in April.
French and German leaders have been in a fix over what could be the possible solution to what has been described as the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
However, new theories suggest while refugees fleeing their countries is indeed a huge problem in neighboring regions, Europe might be overstating the number of people reaching its shores.
At a time when the number of people forcibly displaced by war and persecution around the world reached a record high, around 80% of the refugees are being hosted by developing countries – and not the developed ones, according to a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report released in June.
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“The burden of helping the world’s forcibly displaced people is starkly uneven,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on World Refugee Day. “Poor countries host vastly more displaced people than wealthier ones. While anti-refugee sentiment is heard loudest in industrialized countries, developing nations host 80 per cent of the world’s refugees. This situation demands an equitable solution.”
This essentially means the real “crisis” involving migrants remains in countries like Pakistan, Iran and Syria – which host the largest refugee populations at 1.9 million, 1.1 million and 1 million respectively.
While this certainly doesn’t mean that Europe isn’t struggling with the issue at all, it shows the continent isn’t as overwhelmed by the problem as the news makes it out to be.
On the other hand, there is an increasingly popular opinion in news according to which the issue should not be termed a “migrant” crisis.
It is, in fact, a humanitarian crisis.
In his article, Al Jazeera online editor Barry Malone wrote the word migrant is a “blunt pejorative” that dehumanizes the affected people and that from now onwards, the news organization will not use the words “Mediterranean migrants.”
“There is no ‘migrant’ crisis in the Mediterranean,” Malone stated. “There is a very large number of refugees fleeing unimaginable misery and danger and a smaller number of people trying to escape the sort of poverty that drives some to desperation.”
Again, this doesn’t mean Europe doesn’t face any problems with asylum seekers. The continent is indeed witnessing an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war – a record 107,500 migrants crossed into the EU in July – however, the main “crisis” or the real challenge still lies in the countries from where these destitute people come from.