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What is causing this present migration? Why are they coming now? Where do they want to go?

The simple causes are war and/or oppression and/or a failed state and/or religious extremism and/or the inability to survive with adequate food, shelter & medicine.  People are fleeing for their lives to find safety and protection.

Refugees have been struggling to get to Europe for many years. However, it is in the last year that the numbers have mushroomed. As of the third quarter of 2015, over 400,000 people made a first time application for asylum in Europe and there were 800,000 applications still pending. The majority of refugees coming into Europe in 2015 are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia. Politicians will argue over the reasons but the following are all likely to be contributing

  1. The underfunding in the UNHCR camps in the Middle East which make survival almost impossible

  2. The spread of barbarism and the intensification of fighting in Syria and elsewhere.

  3. People smugglers being well-organised

  4. Social media giving advice and encouragement on how to get to Europe

  5. A perception that it is possible to succeed in relocating and that some countries will welcome you.

  6. A sense that there really is no other choice but to leave everything and everyone and take the perilous journey to Europe

Where do the refugees wish to go? They want to go to a place of peace, safety and freedom and where they perceive that the nation will welcome them and help them to settle. If given a choice, many seek to go to a country where they have contacts. Many will choose a country whose economy is strong enough to cope with new people and where they can find work and/or education.

Nearly two-thirds of asylum applications have been received by Germany and Hungary, with Sweden, Italy and Austria also receiving large numbers.


Sources: UNHCR, Global Trends 2014 EU, Migration and Home Affairs

IAFR, Refugee Realities 2015