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30 October 2015
There are more displaced people and refugees now than at any other time in recorded history — 60 million in all — and they are on the march in numbers not seen since World War II. They are coming not just from Syria, but from an array of countries and regions, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, even Haiti, as well as any of a dozen or so nations in sub-Saharan and North Africa. They are unofficial ambassadors of failed states, unending wars, intractable conflicts.
The most striking thing about the current migration crisis, however, is how much bigger it could still get.
What if Islamic State militants are not beaten back but continue to extend their brutal writ across Iraq and Syria? What if the Taliban continue to increase their territorial gains in Afghanistan, prompting even more people to flee? A quarter of Afghans told a Gallup Poll that they want to leave, and more than 100,000 are expected to try to flee to Europe this year.
There are between six million and eight million people displaced in Syria, along with more than four million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Egypt’s five million or more Copts, the Middle East’s last remaining major Christian sect, are deeply worried about their future in an unstable and hostile country. Ancient minority groups like the Yazidis of Iraq are already homeless, as are many small communities of Assyrian, Nestorian and Chaldean Christians from northern Iraq.
While Yemenis have yet to abandon their homeland in substantial numbers, their plight is worsening daily amid wartime shortages of food and medicine and persistent bombardment by Saudi warplanes. Yemen is not much farther away from Europe than Eritrea, now the biggest source of African refugees, just across the Red Sea, and at some 25 million it is as populous as Afghanistan.
Nor is it only the Middle East and North Africa that European leaders need to consider. The Gallup Poll, based on data compiled from more than 450,000 interviews in 151 nations from 2009 to 2011, found that in Nigeria, which already has double the population of Germany, 40 percent of people would emigrate to the West if they could. And the lesson of 2015 — for them and much of the world — is that they can.
Schengen Area countries do not require passports or controls between their common borders.
Source: Frontex By The New York Times
While the flow of migrants to Europe this year already represents the biggest influx from outside the Continent in modern history, many experts warn that the mass movement may continue and even increase — possibly for years to come. “We are talking about millions of potential refugees trying to reach Europe, not thousands,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said in a recent Twitter posting.
Many of the migrants are fleeing persecution, poverty, ethnic and religious strife and war, but these afflictions are often symptoms of more profound changes.
In the Middle East and Africa, borders drawn by Ottoman dynasts and European colonialists are breaking down as the autocratic Arab states that enforced a grim peace for generations continue to implode.
As traditional lines of authority break down, militant groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram, in Nigeria, seek to fill the vacuum while minority sects and ethnic groups suffer unspeakable treatment at their hands.
Climate change, too, is roiling societies across the Middle East and Africa. Syria was in the grip of a prolonged drought when war broke out, and large areas of sub-Saharan Africa are becoming uninhabitable. With rising sea levels, a single typhoon in the Bay of Bengal could drive millions of Bangladeshis from their homes in low-lying coastal areas and render that land uninhabitable, too.
Europe has spawned mass movements of refugees in the not-too-distant past — 700,000 from the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1993, 1.1 million from Eastern Europe as the Iron Curtain was torn down in 1989 — but what is new now is not just the scale of the arrivals, in such large numbers over such a short period of time. It is also the sheer number and variety of problem places they are leaving behind.
Many migrants are from countries where the West has tried to intervene and failed spectacularly — Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular.
There are now some two million Iraqi refugees, many bound for Europe. Among them are people like Muhammad Basher, a young Kurdish doctor from Iraq, who took his life savings of $2,000 and had spent nearly all of it by the time he reached the Croatian border — $1,200 just for a seat in a rubber dinghy on a dangerous sea crossing to Greece.
Source: The New York Times
Did You Know?
The European migrant crisis or European refugee crisis arose through the rising number of refugees and migrants coming to the European Union, across the Mediterranean Sea or Southeast Europe, and applying for asylum.
Image source: www.unhcr.org (AFP/B.Kilic)
More than 500,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived by sea so far this year, but exact numbers are unclear as some may have passed through borders undetected.
Germany continues to be the most popular destination for migrants arriving in Europe. It has received the highest number of new asylum applications, with almost 222,000 by the end of August.
Hungary has moved into second place, as more migrants have tried to make the journey overland through Greece and the Western Balkans. It had 96,350 applications by the end of July.
Image source: www.unhcr.org (UNHCR/I.Pricket)
They come from areas such as the Middle East (Syria, Iraq), Africa (Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia), South Asia and Central Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh) and the Western Balkans (Kosovo, Albania).
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 350,000 migrants were detected at the EU's borders between January and August 2015, compared with 280,000 detections for the whole of 2014. The figures do not include those who got in undetected. The EU's external border force, Frontex, monitors the different routes migrants use and numbers arriving at Europe's borders.
29 September 2015
Missing Migrants Project is the only global database sharing key data on deceased and missing migrants around the world. This info-graphic focuses on migrant arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean region. #MissingMigrants
Source: International Organization for Migration
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