Beyond Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Testing the Resilience of the West

The EU’s recent history has allowed for easy migration over its nation’s borders. If, along with innocent war victims, the doors are also opened to those whose views pose a threat to the continent’s security, this is not a solution. It has been happening for years already, and, although some fear this migratory wave could be a well disguised Trojan horse, who is to say the gates of Troy have not already been forced open by steady and continuous integration of extremely differing worldviews?


By Georgiana Constantin | September 14, 2015

The ongoing migrant crisis in Europe is sparking controversy, panic and heated debates over ethics, legality and economic consequences.

Both sides, the pro and anti-migration supporters have their share of concerns and arguments. On the one hand, there are growing anxieties about the capacity of Europe to maintain its standard of living and even its social structure intact, if it should cater to the needs of so many. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond stated, “this is not a sustainable situation because Europe can’t protect itself, preserve its standard of living and social infrastructure if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa.”

Prime Minister David Cameron seems to share Hammond’s fears, as his official spokeswoman noted, “The point that the foreign secretary was making, and which the prime minister shares, is the scale of this problem. The figures show the detection of 150,000 migrants seeking to enter the EU.” She also added, “the focus should be on the measures we can take, the practical measures” since this phenomenon is to put such pressure on EU communities.” The number of people seeking refuge from persecution have been in fact higher than 150,000. The Guardian estimates that “more than 120,000 migrants have arrived in Greece so far this year, including 50,000 in July alone. About 90,000 have travelled to Italy by sea so far this year, after it received 170,000 in 2014, according to the UN refugee agency.” These statements have been made about economic migrants as well, as, it would seem, many believe that the desperation comes from poverty.

However, it appears the biggest migrant crisis since the Second World War is taking place because war stricken countries cannot provide for their citizens’ safety any longer. Figures show that 70% percent of those who reached Europe this year by boat came from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, all nations which have long been considered dangerous because of rampant war and violence. Also, the number of migrants to have reached Europe is estimated to constitute 0.027% of its total 740 million population, the most coveted nations being Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Austria and, as of 2015, Greece. Britain takes a back seat to these countries in terms of numbers of migrants seeking to reach its shores. Apparently, “the UK has welcomed just 187 Syrians through legal mechanisms at the last count. Turkey has around 1.6 million.” In this respect, the UK might in fact not have as much to worry about compared to the rest of the continent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated, “If Europe fails on the question of refugees it won’t be the Europe we wished for.” It seems “Germany expects to register up to 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, far more than any other country in the EU, and voter disquiet is growing.” Although Merkel thinks the EU should be able to share the burden, it is clear that the situation is causing discontent for the German people as well as those in other EU countries who have come to believe the borderless Schengen Agreement is more of a problem than they could have expected and that it is obviously not working. The obvious humanitarian crisis pouring into Europe is not one which can be ignored.

At the same time, questions over the unwillingness of the Islamic countries such as the Gulf States to accept refugees have arisen. Because of their proximity, common religion and historical connections, migrants would be more easily integrated into society there.

The Financial Times reports that in Saudi Arabia there are 541 refugees and 100 asylum seekers. “Meanwhile, there are 630 Saudis classed as refugees in other countries and 391 seeking asylum elsewhere. Similarly there are more Kuwaitis and Bahrainis seeking asylum or classed as refugees abroad than other nationalities seeking asylum in the two countries.” It then becomes obvious why not many are heading to these countries, when the chance of their being sent back is so high.

Recent events have raised questions about national security both in Europe and in the United States.

Would it be safe to accept countless people who come from countries well known for their extremist activities? How can one be sure that many of them are not using this crisis as a façade to go about spreading jihadist ideology? Would it be dangerous to keep mixing people of such historically and religiously different backgrounds together in the long run?  Would it prove to be a reason for cities to self-segregate, as many now do in northern European countries such as Sweden and Denmark, where Muslim neighborhoods tend to separate themselves from the rest of society, becoming effectively inaccessible and unrecognizable?

It is normal to have people pose such questions. And it is obvious that these are not just hypotheticals. It has been happening for years around both Europe and the U.S.

At the same time though, the crises in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur and other such nations are mostly due to U.S. and European foreign policies. And the human toll they are taking is not to be ignored.

Should it be said that Western nations are now paying for their foreign policy sins? Can they overlook the dangers and sufferings their policies have caused?

It is quite obvious this crisis has moral, economic and security dimensions. The question now is how can it be resolved without leaving the West’s historical memory stained with the blood of the innocent and at the same time keep nations from breaking under the weight of possible economic and security threats?

As one viral social media video put it “Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.” And, whatever one’s opinion is on the matter, humanity is still in the midst of these conflicts.

The EU’s recent history has allowed for easy migration over its nations’ borders. If, along with innocent war victims, the doors are also opened to those whose views pose a threat to the continent’s security, this is not a solution. It has been happening for years already, and, although some fear this migratory wave could be a well disguised Trojan horse, who is to say the gates of Troy have not already been forced open by steady and continuous integration of extremely divergent worldviews?


Georgiana Constantin is a law school graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and received her Masters from the Nicolae Titulescu University in Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.