The increasingly burgeoning numbers of immigrants heading from Syria to Europe has seen a sudden backlash from several countries with plenty of European states considering closing their borders. Exacerbating the problem are the immigrants from Syria who had previously moved to Morocco and similar countries and are now petitioning to go to higher European states. The Syrians aren’t the only migrants. The prevailing and even worsening conditions in Afghanistan and abuses in Eritrea are major drivers of the immigration. African and Middle East countries have also seen a surge of immigrants heading to Europe. More than 350,000 migrants were detected at the EU’s borders in January-August 2015, compared with 280,000 detections for the whole of 2014. That 350,000 figure – an estimate from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – does not include the many that got in undetected.
Why such extreme influx of immigrants? Sure the immigrants (illegal and otherwise) have been coming in for quite a while now and while no country likes to appear heartless by denying them entry there is a limit to the accommodation capacity (and willingness) of any government. Some 3,000 people are expected to cross into Macedonia each day in the coming months, according to the UN.
Many then cross into Serbia, which says it has seen 90,000 migrants so far this year, and head for Hungary – a gateway to the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.
In July alone, 34,000 migrants were detected trying to cross from Serbia into Hungary.
Faced with that influx, Hungary has built a controversial 175km (110-mile) razor-wire fence to keep migrants out. It plans to fortify it over the coming weeks.
It has also urged EU partners not to send back migrants who have travelled on from Hungary.
After hundreds of migrants crowded onto trains bound for Austria and Germany at a central Budapest station the Hungarian authorities decided to close it to migrants on 1 September.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced plans that he says will offer a “swift, determined and comprehensive” response to Europe’s migrant crisis. Under the proposals, 120,000 additional asylum seekers will be distributed among EU nations, with binding quotas. It comes after a surge of thousands of mainly Syrian migrants pushed north through Europe in recent days.
Surprisingly even people from Pakistan have joined in, with many Pakistanis amongst those caught trying to enter Europe illegally. While some of the refugees are decidedly opportunistic it is undoubtedly true that the majority of the refugees fleeing from their violent and often lethal home states have left everything behind and are now looking to the world community for help. It could be said that it is our moral obligation or rather our duty to help these people. It may very well be us in another time. This is the time for the compassion and humanity of people to show themselves. To stop violence we must first take action and show that we are capable of peace, of forgiveness and understanding. We must band together and not let down our brothers and sisters. Europe can only take so many, we must see to the placement of the rest of the refugees in a fitting manner worthy of humanitarian efforts.
By Usman Khalid