The world is facing an unprecedented displacement crisis. Today, more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced as a result of violent conflicts and natural disasters. In 2015, over 1 million people – refugees, displaced persons and other migrants – have made their way to the EU, either escaping conflict in their country and in search of better economic prospects. While the numbers have shown a decreasing trend in 2016, by June, around 156 000 people have reached Europe. Many people arrive in the EU after difficult land or sea journeys and require basic humanitarian assistance, such as provision of clean water, health care, emergency shelter and legal aid. Many of these displaced people are children who have special protection needs. The migration flow is impacting transit countries, such as Turkey, Greece and Libya, sometimes overwhelming national emergency response capacities.
This is why Europe needs a joined strategy to deal with the influx of refugees. Not every nation is capable of dealing with the massive waves of refugees streaming into their country. That’s why several states have taken unilateral action to control their borders, either by erecting fences, other physical obstacles or by reintroducing strict border control checks. The primary effect has been to redirect the flow of refugees and migrants to other borders and countries, which does not solve the problem.
Europe has to unite to defend our democracy. To do so, we must overcome political divisions to focus on the root causes of extremism and radicalisation. We must denounce hatred, discrimination and intolerance. Migration is not a threat to our democracies, but intolerance and hatred are. Our common objective must be to combat terrorism, not to combat migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
There needs to be plans and programs in order for refugees to be integrated into our society so that they can help further build Europe and its economy. There needs to be active communication between the different cultures in Europe in order to settle differences and to avoid conflicts, for example, when it comes the wearing of religious symbols in public areas. Also, we need to create transparency in European media, which also plays a big role in means of opinion forming and general information about refugees.