Europe is facing a mass influx of refugees from outside the region for the first time in its history, as people flee persecution and conflict in countries such as Syria and Iraq. And its politicians are struggling to find a coherent response.
At the European level, the EU’s supposed common asylum and immigration policy has been stretched to breaking point. While politicians and the media have inappropriately characterised this as a “migrant crisis”, the overwhelming majority of people are coming from refugee-producing countries.
Europe has a proud history of protecting refugees – it created the modern refugee regime after the Holocaust. This tradition is under threat.
Europe needs to provide asylum, but it also needs to take a global perspective.
Only a tiny proportion of the world’s 20 million refugees come to Europe: 95% are in the countries that neighbour conflict and crisis, mainly in developing regions. About 3.5 million Syrians are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. More than 500,000 Somalis are in Kenya. More than two million Afghans are in Pakistan and Iran.