Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Europe's Struggle with Refugee Crisis: An Analysis

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Europe's Struggle with Refugee Crisis: An Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction: Defining Concepts

Europe has always been an attraction for people from all over the world, particularly after the Second World War, for the economic prospects, freedom, peace and stability it offers. People from the developing countries, Middle East, African countries and Latin American countries have been migrating to Europe to seek better life and future. Since the beginning of the year 2015, the percentage of people coming into Europe has grown manifold. What is different this time as compared to previous patterns and phases of migration is that these people are not economic migrants; they are asylum seekers looking for refuge. These people are fleeing war-torn regions of Middle East and North Africa, and particularly Syria. The media was overwhelmed by the stories and images of large numbers of people attempting to enter borders, struggling to board buses and trains, and heart-wrenching stories of how people have become homeless and the ruined lives of children, women, elderly and young. The print and electronic media reported the crisis as a migrant crisis or immigrant crisis. But, theoretically speaking, the movement of people, their purpose, their goal, and conditions which they attempt to escape tend to define them differently, either as a migrant, asylum seeker or a refugee. While understanding the nature of displacement of a large number of people in this crisis, it is pertinent to understand the difference between a migrant, refugee, and an asylum seeker.

A migrant is understood as "any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country." But this definition is too narrow in the context of the fact that according to the policy of some of the states a person can be considered as a migrant even when s/he is born in the country.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Migrants defines a migrant worker as a "person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a national." From this a broader definition of migrants follows: "The term 'migrant' in Article 1.1 (a) should be understood as covering all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of 'personal convenience' and without intervention of an external compelling factor."1 Gabriela Rodríguez Pizarro2 has proposed that the following persons should be considered as migrants:

* Persons who are outside the territory of the state of which they are nationals or citizens, are not subject to its legal protection and are in the territory of another state;

* Persons who do not enjoy the general legal recognition of rights which is inherent in the granting by the host state of the status of refugee, naturalized person or of similar status; and

* Persons who do not enjoy either general legal protection of their fundamental rights by virtue of diplomatic agreements, visas or other agreements.3

It also attempts to define migrant population in a way that takes new situations into consideration. International migrants can be broadly classified into the following categories: Temporary labor migrants4, Highly skilled and business migrants5, Irregular migrants (or undocumented illegal migrants)6, Forced migration7, Family members8, and Return migrants.9

Although the word migrant used to be neutral, some believe the term is now a pejorative used to spread negative connotations of migration and enforce prejudices.10 The negative connotation is because it is difficult to distinguish between migrants who leave their countries because of political persecution, conflicts, economic problems, environmental degradation or a combination of these reasons and those migrants or people who voluntarily leave their countries in search of economic opportunities or conditions of survival or wellbeing that does not exist in their place of origin. …

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