Astronomical numbers of migrants have made their way over the Mediterranean to Europe just this year, stirring up a catastrophe as European countries battle to cope with the influx, and creating a parting in the European Union (EU) over how to best handle these resettling people. This issue, as more than 650,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived by sea so far this year, has become known as the refugee crisis. Where, one may ask, do
these migrants come from? Over the last four years alone, four million Syrian refugees have flooded into neighboring countries and fell inevitably into severe poverty. The current strife in Syria continues to be the biggest cause behind this migration. However, the continuing brutality in Afghanistan and Eritrea, as well as poverty in Kosovo, are also pushing people to turn to look for new lives and safety elsewhere.
One way to measure where exactly these migrants have ended up is by examining their asylum applications. Although not all of the incoming migrants are claiming asylum, still more than half a million have. The top countries currently receiving these migrants are Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland. With almost 222,000 new asylum applications by the end of this August, Germany continues to be the top landing-place for migrants entering Europe. Also receiving 96,350 applications by the end of July, Hungary has become the second most popular destination. Stress in the EU has been growing due to mass migrant arrival, especially in Greece, Italy, and Hungary, where migrants have been entering by boat and overland. At an emergency meeting in Brussels, Belgium, EU ministers voted by a majority to relocate 120,000 refugees EU-wide. However, the arrangement will temporarily apply to just 66,000 who are located in Italy and Greece. The remaining 54,000 were to be moved from Hungary, but now according to the EU ministers, these people will be kept “in reserve”, until the governments decide where these people should go.
In terms of granting asylum, which many of these refugees are desperately seeking, the amount of people granted it is much lower than the mass amount of people applying. In just 2014 alone, asylum was offered to 184,665 refugees; meanwhile more than 570,000 migrants applied. Without being granted asylum, these migrants have absolutely nothing, which is already the case for most, due to having to leave nearly everything behind or selling everything in order to afford to begin these dangerous trips, in the hopes of being granted asylum.
The journey from Libya to Italy is longer and far more dangerous than others. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), “more than 2,800 migrants are reported to have died trying to make the crossing this year migrants are reported to have died attempting to make the crossing just this year.” One major issue behind these deaths is the overcrowding of boats. Hundreds of people are giving everything that they have to smugglers, in order to afford to make the journey, and they are packed into a boat with a much smaller capacity. So far,, the deadliest month for migrants this year was April, which saw a boat carrying about 800 migrants capsize in the sea off Libya. Hundreds upon hundreds of men, women, and children died. What these people need is a safe method of transportation to exit the unsafe areas in which they live, with a new and solid place to call home.