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Europe: a Year on from Merkel’s ‘Wir schaffen das’ (We can do it!) on Refugees

Marking the anniversary of Chancellor Merkel’s statements offering sanctuary to Syrian refugees in 2015, the Chancellor has now made critical statements highlighting faults made in the European response to the refugee crisis. Ms. Merkel commented on Europe being ill-prepared for a refugee crisis that had been building for several years, and the severely lacking coordination and cooperation within and outside of Europe. While Germany attempted to promote pro-refugee policy, many European countries have pursued policy to strong-arm refugee arrivals, fuelled by a perceived threat to national security; which subsequently caused the European Union (EU) to put considerable effort into addressing the Western Balkan refugee route and arrivals from Turkey.

However, while most EU effort has been placed on stemming the flow of refugees through Europe from Turkey, the issue of refugee deaths in the Mediterranean has persisted, and remains unaddressed. On Monday, 29th August, 6,500 refugees were rescued off Libya, Malta and Italy. In 2016 alone, 3,165 refugees have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean.

From 27th-31st August, 13,000 refugees arrived in Turkey, believed to be mostly from Egypt and Libya.

Issues on refugee arrivals to Greek Islands also continue, with 462 arrivals on 30th August, adding to 149 arrivals on 29th August. There have been several instances of persons fleeing in fear of the Turkish post-failed-coup persecution ordered by Turkish President Erdoğan.

While the European and international cooperation Ms. Merkel has called for remains elusive, some positive steps for refugee safety have been taken in France, as the Mayor of Paris Ms. Hidalgo has announced two refugee camps, one for men and one for women and children, are under construction in Paris; with the first camp to be opened by September. The camps are expected to have a capacity of 1,000 refugees each.

Photo courtesy of Are You Syrious? and SIRIUS:HELP

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