A breakdown of the crisis for humanity in Europe (part 1) - Brendan Woodhouse

I have been asked by Derbyshire Solidarity to provide some information about what is happening with the current crisis for refugees in Europe. It’s a daunting prospect, as so much is happening, I really can’t just sum it up in only a few words. I’ve asked for help with getting current information, in order to do it justice, and a lot of people have been letting me know what’s been happening in their particular field of work. I’ve had to miss loads out, really in order to just keep it readable. Each country, each camp, each individual warrants a greater analysis in order to provide a true picture, but I’ve done my best. 

I’m also going to have to do this in stages. Primarily because it would be such a massive amount of information for one read, and secondly, I’d like people to reflect on each piece of this jigsaw individually, in order to do it justice.

Initially, I think that it would be best to do a quick statistical analysis of the overall picture, from a compilation of data and information available, taken from IOM (International Organisation for Migration, The UN Migration Agency)

Over the course of the next week or so, I’ll also do a more detailed account of what’s happening in various locations. I’m going to miss loads out for sure, but I’m going to do my best.

So, here goes….

The total number of arrivals in Europe in 2016 was 387,739, which is significantly lower than in 2015, when over 1 million people arrived on our shores. The EU-Turkey agreement in March has been the single biggest reason for the number of arrivals falling so much, and so many people are land locked in Turkey, with deportations from Greece having a startling effect on individuals lives, leading to suicides, depression and a distinct lack of hope for humane solutions.

Arrivals in Greece over the last year have reduced significantly, and the Western Balkan Route has also come to a relative standstill, with thousands upon thousands of people trapped by the closure of borders. Whereas the number of people making it via the Med into Italy has increased due to a number of contributing factors, including improved weather conditions and the effective closure of the Greek route. People will always look to make it in where they can, and may be seeing the more dangerous route from Libya to Italy as being a more feasible solution. There are other reasons too, but I’ll leave that for now.

Arrivals in Hungary have decreased by 95% due to the border regulations implemented on 5th July 2006. The numbers of people coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has decreased whilst the numbers arriving from African Countries (particularly Nigeria and Eritrea) has increased. 

I’ll include a link to the statistical report by IOM at the end, but statistics really only paint a small portion of the picture. The human impact is immense. The loss of life is in the thousands (In the Mediterranean Sea it was over 5,000 in 2016, and an unknown number of people have literally frozen to death this winter), but honestly, if you just looked in to the lifeless eyes of one of those dead children, it would change your perspective for ever. 

The utterly intolerable misery which cloaks tens of thousands of real human beings lives is impossible to translate into numbers. One conversation, with one man, trapped by our racist intolerance and our corrupt politicians, is enough to know that the heartlessness of this all is beyond tragic. 

The sheer illogical principle of locking people by borders, and forcing them to survive by drip feeding them through donations, as a means to protect good white folk is beyond comprehension.

We’re not protected by forcing people to live like this. We’re simply creating a breeding ground for extremists to operate and empowering terrorism by providing undeniable evidence that these vulnerable people are not welcomed. They’re unwanted, forgotten and betrayed, and we are all responsible for the consequences of this.


Photo Credit Doug Kuntz. The lifejacket graveyard in Lesvos. For
me, it makes the numbers feel more real.