European Policies Diverge on Refugees

By Keith Barnes
Staff Writer

For months, international media headlines have been telling the story of migrants making their way into Europe from conflict areas such as Syria, Eritrea, Libya, and Iraq. Nothing has caused public outcry and criticism since pictures surfaced of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose lifeless corpse washed up on a beach Bodrum, Turkey. However, while some welcome the arrival of refugees, others are protesting.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel received the Bundestag’s approval to unilaterally suspend Germany’s adherence to the Dublin Agreement, which stipulates that migrants are to be registered and resettled in the country where they first arrive. However, the permit extends only to refugees from Syria, causing migrants from other countries to dispose of their passports before entering Europe and claiming to be Syrians. This has led the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to deploy the Hungarian army to assist with border control.

Previously, aggressive border control prevented refugees from entering Hungary. Recently, Hungary, Germany, and Austria have created a simpler path from the Hungarian border to resettlement in Germany. But Hungary’s strict border control continues to make it easier for smugglers to find desperate refugees, who pay thousands of euros to evade the “harsh and unpredictable Hungarian police,” according to The Guardian. Authorities have erected a fence of barbed wire, with another to be complete at the end of fall, and are passing new laws to criminalize crossing the border or damaging the fence.

Hungary’s reluctance to take in refugees stems from the inevitable burden on state resources. Aside from imploring parishes across Europe to take in refugees, Pope Francis recently stated that the Vatican will begin housing refugees, albeit to a limited extent, while states enforce resettlement plans.

The BBC reports that considering their increasing estimates of incoming migrants, now a staggering 800,000, Germany’s government has released an additional 3 billion euros from the federal budget to help local governments. Hundreds of citizens have volunteered to help at stations across Germany’s southern border. Unfortunately, relocation facilities have become targets of “politically motivated arson,” according to police in the central German state of Thuringia.

The influx of refugees from the Middle East also affects European migrants–the German government will change the status of Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro to “safe” so that migrants from those countries can be easily deported.

Keith Barnes

Contact Keith at keith.barnes@student.shu.edu.

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