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The Syrian Refugees Support Project in Germany

Migrant Crisis Plan


Historic Tensions Leading to The Migrant Crisis

When we are talking about the Syrian refugee crisis we have to take into account the many actors that are involved here, not just Syria. But before we start at the beginning, when we are asking ourselves which factors triggered the waves of refugees into Europe, the most common answer we can get from most politicians, academics and so on, is the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring that started in Tunisia and had a quick spill-over effect in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. This was a decisive factor that led to the ongoing Syrian Civil War and thus, to the current refugee crisis that Europe and Syrian neighbours are experiencing.

Syria is a country with a varying ethno religious composition where Arab Sunni represent 60% Arab- Alawite(Shia) 12%, Kurd Sunni 9%, Arab-Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic (Latin Rite), Oriental Orthodox (9%) ,Armenian Christian (4%), Arab-Druze (3%),  Arab-Ismaili (Shia) (2%), Turkmen-Sunni and Circassian. From these categories, Bashar al-Assad is representative for the Alawite religious group and for decades the power has been concentrated in Assad’s and his family’s hands, with some other key players belonging to that group. Moreover, discontents arouse also from the ethnic Kurdish minority who were claiming its linguistic and cultural rights. Also, the socio-economic gap played an important role for the 2011 uprisings. High unemployment among youth population and the extreme poverty were also critical factors.

In terms of human rights, Syrian population was subject to abuse since the military coup in 1963 when “emergency law” was adopted, giving the government almost absolute power to control individual freedoms and to take arbitrary actions to eliminate all kinds of opposition.

In the first phase of the uprisings, the protesters’ claims were focused on democratic reforms, abolition of the law mentioned earlier, more rights and freedoms and also the release of the political prisoners. In less than a month after the protests started, there was increased violence as the civil disobedience shifted its demands, with the main focus on overthrowing the government.

Assad’s regime response was violent and led to more than a thousand causalities by the end of May 2011.

Shortly after, the Syrian Free Army and the Syrian National Council were formed. These were meant to represent the opposition forces again the government.

In early 2012, what started as a peaceful demonstration democracy transformed into a full- fledged civil war. This war brought with it not only a spill-over effect in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq but it also gave influence to asymmetric threats such as militias, guerilla warfare, terrorism or the massive waves of refugees that both the regional actors, and the European countries are facing.

In the case of Iraq, the sectarian spill-over from Syria had a great impact in radicalization of Sunni wing from Iraq with great emphasis on the jihadist group Al-Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS that had security implications not only for Iraq but for Syria as well. Sunni and Salafist militias that were crossing the border to Syria succeeded in aiding ISIS by dissolving the border between Iraq and Syria. On the other side, Iraqi Shia militias are operating in Syria. The Iraqi Shia government is also a player in Syrian war supporting Assad’s regime.

Syria’s neighbour, Lebanon, has probably the strongest ties with this sectarian spill-over. On one hand, there is the Shiite militant organization Hezbollah that is supporting militarily Assad’s regime. On the other hand, there is the Sunni community that is supporting the opposition front from Syria. For Hezbollah, supporting the Syrian regime is crucial for its own existence for the simple reason that Iran assures it in terms of weaponry and a defeat of Assad’s regime would probably mean a possible dissolution of this sectarian militia.

The Sunni community, on the other side, does not have a strong political background. And for this reason, there is an increasing radicalization inside the community. Serious violent clashes between these two factions were seen in Lebanon. Moreover, these radicalized Sunnis, represent a danger for the Lebanese army as well.

The Syrian refugees coming to Lebanon represent another issue for this country.  Latest data suggests that Lebanon received so far approximately 1,075,637 Syrian refugees . This led to a political crisis within Lebanon where political parties proposal for the situation included even cancelation of the agreements between the two countries.

In regards to Turkey, it can be said that before the war started, this country had the best relationships with Syria from all Syria’s neighbouring countries. Also, the level of interdependence between these two, made Turkey fear that its stability was depending heavily on Syria’s stability.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Turkey’s position was against Assad’s regime. Due to its demographic ties with Syria, a sectarian spill-over of the Syrian conflict in Turkey was imminent. Turkey hosts more them half million Arab Alawites. The support for Assad’s regime is split among them: on one side, there were demonstrations in the province Hatay against Turkey’s and US’s policies towards Syria and on the other side the large majority recognizes the necessity of Assad’s regime fall. However, there are concerns that this fall will bring together a wave of violence coming from Sunni’s that are fighting now in Syria and might come back against them.
The situation becomes more complicated because of the sectarian tendencies alongside Turkish border. In this context, Turkey has many challenges to face. On one side they have to deal with the massive wave of refugees that arrived since the conflict started, on the other side they have to solve their historical issues with the well-known leftist faction Kurdistan Workers’ Party but also with the anti-refugee feeling that Assad is trying to create in Turkey.





Timeline of Events Since 2011


During the spring of 2011 large amounts of Syrian refugees start crossing Syrians borders. Harsh fires in Talkalakh forced 5000 people, most of whom were women and children, to escape from Syria to Lebanon. Since they had no other option, the refugees used an unofficial border crossing which was previously used to smuggle goods.

On June 4th during the Syrian civil uprising, the Syrian military launched an operation in the Syrian city of Jisr ashShugur. On one side Syrian Government said it was targeting terrorist groups, while Syrian opposition called it a crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. For this reason, thousands of people escaped to Turkey. A couple of day later, Jordan sees an increase of refugees coming from the Syrian border town Deraa (the birth place of the uprising).

Waves continue until end of 2011. Jordan was already home to 2000 refugees. In the end of 2011, all eyes were fastened on Turkey which had already spent 15 million to set up six camps for thousands of refugees and military defection. Good relations between Syria and Turkey therefore started to weaken.


When the spring 2012 began, the main destination for refugees became Bekaa in Lebanon. The city of Bekaa is mostly an agricultural region. Most of the refugees were settled in the town with their friends and relatives or in squatter communities in the hills. One month later significant number of refugees started to enter in Iraqi Kurdish camps. The camp later became the largest Syrian refugee camp. A record amount of refugees crossed the border on 12th of April 2012 when 2500 people crossed the Turkish - Syrian border. The Syrian military set bombs on the border to prohibit refugees fleeing into Turkey. Since Aleppo is only 50km from the Turkish border, 200,000 people took the decision to cross. Greece heard about the situation so they strengthened the border forces in case of an influx of Syrian refugees.

A big turnaround occurred in July 2012. Bombs exploded and killed the President Bashar al- Assads's brother-in-Iaw and other high ranking security officials. Daily reports from United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have said that 11,000 refugees fled daily to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Until September 2012 refugees were spread all over Jordan and pressure on its cities was increasing.

By the end of 2012, conditions had become better (reportedly 6,000 refugees return to Syria from the camp in Jordan) until health problems were encountered. The Ministry of Health reported traits of Tuberculosis between refugees in Lebanon. Reports from The World Health Organisation suggested there were 40 people infected with tuberculosis, 2 of which had strains that could not be cured with modern medicines. In December 2012, The UN refugee’s agency asked international donators to help with aid and reach donations of 1 billion euros to support refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Egypt. UNHCR were able to help 525,000 refugees.


On January 2013 UNICEF launched the "Children of Syria" Campaign to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian refugee children on social media. By the end of 2013, half the 2 million refugees who fled the country were children. In March, according to the UNHCR, the number of Syrians officially registered as refugees reached the 1 million mark. Meanwhile, Za'atari camp in Jordan became one of the largest cities in Jordan. The New York Times tracked the camps growth from 2012-2013 from 2,000 tents to over 12,000 tents. A few months later, Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, visited the Za'atari camp for World Refugee Day in order to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian refugees. She had previously visited the camp in 2012. From July 2013 until January 2014, the Syrian conflict spread into Lebanon with a series of bombardments in Beirut. Individuals identified as Hezbollah, Iranian and Shia were the target of bombings throughout 2013.

With an average 6,000 people a day fleeing conflict in Syria by summer 2013, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres announced that such a rate has not been seen since Rwandan genocide in the mid-1990s. In August, thousands of refugees escaped into Iraq. The BBC described this event as "biblical scenes" of refugees entering into Kurdistan. Almost 20,000 crossed over a few days. A consequence of these events was the motivating factor behind Germany agreeing to resettle 5,000 Syrian refugees. The first charter plane of Refugees arrived on September 11th. After the German government's decision to welcome refugees, the Swedish Migration Board announced that all asylum seekers (and family members as well) from Syria who have been granted temporary residency in Sweden could receive permanent permits. Sweden is the only EU country to offer full asylum to Syrian refugees.

In October, Turkey built a two meter wall on the Syrian border, in the district of Nusavbin, a site of frequent clashes between rebels, Kurds and Arab tribes. Protests broke out during the wall's construction. One month later, Greek armed forces were accused by a German NGO of pushing back Syrian refugees through conducting operations around the Turkish border to repel them. The report, called Pushed Back, details what it calls "systematic" operations by special-op forces on land and sea. Meanwhile Bulgaria began the construction of a 30km border fence south of the town Elhovo. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, urged European countries to "keep their borders open" during a visit to Bulgaria. "Refugees are not terrorists. They are the first victims of terror, the ones who suffered," he said.

At the end of the year, UNICEF and WHO launched a massive polio eradication campaign in Syria and neighbouring countries following the discovery of new cases in Syria. Over 23 million children had been targeted in order to prevent the spread of this viral disease that until recently was on track to be eradicated. It has been the largest-ever polio immunization campaign in the region.

On December 16th The UN estimated that nearly three-quarters of Syria’s 22.4 million population would need humanitarian aid in 2014. According to the BBC, about $4.2 billion would be allocated to assist refugees in neighbouring countries.


At the beginning of 2014, the UK announced it would take Syrian refugees. The home secretary declared her commitment in providing emergency sanctuary to vulnerable Syrian refugees. On February 16th, Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai travelled to the Syrian border with her father to offer support to refugees. At the same time, UNICEF announced that Syrian refugees in Lebanon, especially children, were at risk of dying from malnutrition. In March 2014, UNICEF released a report on the 5.5 million Syrian children living in camps in Syria and in neighbouring countries. 1.2 million children were living as refugees in host countries and 3,000 refugee children were born since the conflict began. Malnutrition, lack of education, poor healthcare and emotional distress are just a few of the many factors that are creating this "lost generation." In April of the same year, Lebanon received one million refugees from Syria. The UNHCR called it a "devastating milestone."

In addition to the extension of the conflict, polio crossed the borders and spread in the region. The World Health Organization confirmed, on April 4th, the first polio case in Iraq. Iraq's first polio case in 14 years was confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health. For methods of prevention, the UN kicked off a large-scale polio vaccination campaign in Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

A few months after, the ISIS refugee crisis began. ISIS took control of the Iraqi city of Mosul and a new refugee crisis began in the Middle East. Many fled from the jihadist regime to the countryside. At the same time ISIS announced that the "Caliphate" in Syria and Iraq was established. The group claimed that the state will erase all state borders. The following day, the UN declared that an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes.

On July 7th, EU Home Affairs Minister, Cecilia Malmstrom, said that Syria's neighbours have accepted over 3 million refugees, while Europe only managed 100,000. According to Malmstrom, Europe should definitely be doing more to remedy this.


On the 18th of April 2015, 800 refugees died in a shipwreck while traveling from Libya to Europe - one of the deadliest days for those crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Three days later, the European Foreign and Interior Ministers, Dimitris Ayramopoulos (The European Migration Home Affairs and Citizenship 0 Commission) presented a plan of 10 points to be implemented immediately for the Mediterranean crisis. The plan had received full support from Interior and Foreign Ministers. Following this, the European Council convened a special session for a response on the migrations.

European leaders agreed on four priority areas of action: strengthening their presence at sea, fighting "traffickers" in accordance with international law, supporting illegal migration flows and reinforcing internal solidarity and responsibility. Later, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, addressed the European Council, claiming that because there is no common policy, there is no unified plan in dealing with a crisis such as the one we are faced with. The result of these debates brought calls for the European states to try and develop an ambitious European agenda on migrations. Fifteen days later, The European Commission adopted the European Agenda on Migration; an ambitious and comprehensive plan to manage migration to Europe.

The plan was set to be implemented immediately and for the long term. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, said that their rights will be based on the Geneva Convention and present a plan which included various security and defence options. The Council agreed to establish EU military operation.

On the 27th of May, the European Commission presented a plan to aid 40,000 people from Syria and Eritrea, aiming to relocate them from Greece and Italy to other European countries. The EC also initiated an EU action plan against migrant smuggling (2015-2020) and it was adopted the following day and included the necessary actions to implement the European Agenda on Migration and the European Agenda on Security.

On the 22th of June, the Council launched an EU-wide naval operation to disrupt human smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean entitled 'EUNAVFOR MED'. From 25-26 of June 2015 the European Council met to discuss an agenda for the next action in the field of balance for a geographically comprehensive approach to migration based on solidarity and responsibility. The conclusion was to relocate the refugees from Italy and Greece into other European countries. One month later, The European Council's Justice and Home Affairs Council came to a decision: countries would have to redistribute refugees and the project would be implemented in September and the European Parliament would have to approve the suggested plan.

The problem perpetuated in the beginning of August 2015. A record number of 49,550 immigrants entered in July through Greece in one month. That is the largest migration of people since the crisis began. The first European wave began in the end of summer 2015. Macedonia declared a state of emergency and reported that in 2 months, 44,000 people fled.

During mid-to-end August, an Italian coast guard coordinated the rescue of thousands of people in one single day. They received countless numbers of calls from boats to aid them. The UN Refugee Agency reported that approximately 2,500 people have died by drowning while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and over 300,000 people have attempted to cross this year alone. A day after this shocking statistic was revealed, they found 11 migrants abandoned in a lorry on the Austrian border of Hungary. September 2015 was the beginning of first large scale wave of refugees and tensions were rising in Hungary and Austria as refugees were filling up train stations across both nations in their attempts to reach Germany.

On the 2nd of September, Hungarian police blocked hundreds of people’s access to the train station in Budapest. Subsequently, France and Germany called upon all European States to meet on the 14th of September and agreed upon the adoption of the numbers of refugees in their own country. The same day UNHCR issued guidelines for coping with Europe's refugee crisis, including a mass relocation programme, with the mandatory participation of all EU member states' and an increase in the number of relocation opportunities by up to 200,000.

The UK announced that they will accept thousand more Syrian refugees because of the chaos in Hungary, particularly Budapest. The Hungarian government stated that they will close their borders until the 15th of September, while numerous Germans gathered in Munich to cheer the arrival of people who were coming from Hungary and offered them support, food and temporary accommodation. A couple of days later, Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, claimed that we really have to take action. His plan was to firstly offer relief to the southern states of Europe. The European Parliament already agreed to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece over the course of next two years, and the next plan is to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers during the second wave, which was supported by UNHCR. On the 14th of September, the influx of refugees was actually double to what was originally expected, causing Germany to once again increase its monitoring of the situation on the border with Austria.

Thomas de Maiziere specially announced that asylum seekers do not have the luxury of choosing where they will be relocated. That same day, an emergency meeting of EU Interior Ministers occurred and they failed in reaching an agreement on binding quotas for a further 120,000 asylum seekers to be shared amongst the EU. Instead the Ministers agreed upon plans to build and fund camps in Africa and elsewhere, with the aim that those inside the camps would be denied the right to seek asylum in Europe. UNHCR commended the meetings decision to increase the support to reception countries (Greece), and their ongoing commitment to further strengthen Frontex sea operations to prevent further deaths at sea. President Obama requested the cooperation of all European countries and the international community to play their part in improving the situation of the migration crisis. The day after, Hungary closed its border with Serbia and Hungary has changed its laws regarding the migrant situation. In Hungary, it is now an offence to illegally cross the border through the 4m high fence that now runs along the country's border with Serbia.

The Schengen system fell apart on 16th of September, when Germany announced that all the borders have to be controlled again. Following this, Slovakia, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Poland made their own border system. One week later UNHCR issued a brief note identifying seven factors behind the movement of Syrian refugees to Europe. They are as follows: loss of hope, high costs of living, deepening poverty, limited livelihood opportunities, aid shortfalls, hurdles to renew legal residence, scant education opportunities and feeling unsafe in Iraq.

In the beginning of October, the European Commission released a draft action plan titled: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq'. It represents an agreement between the EU and Turkey in which a number of measures are advocated to address the migrant 'crisis' by 'supporting the refugees and their host communities in Turkey' (Part I) and 'strengthening cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows of the EU' (Part II).

In exchange for various amounts of financial support, Turkey would have to implement the agreed upon asylum measures as well as give priority to the 'opening of the six refugee reception centres built with the EU co-funding'. The Plan builds on Turkey's continued efforts to join the EU and is set to be implemented immediately. European Council united to accept the conclusions regarding migrations. Moreover, they agreed upon Turkey enhancing its support for refugees and closer engagement with its African partners.

On the 15th of October, Hungary reported that they will close the border between Croatia before 8th of November. A wave of refugees were redirected through Slovenia. Slovenia called the army to join the police in controlling the Croatian border. On the same day, in Bulgaria, an Afghan man was shot by a Bulgarian border guard, prompting the UNHCR calls for an urgent investigation into the matter.

The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that the forced return of three asylum applicants to Syria would violate their basic human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHP). By the end of November, Germany and Austria again wanted to close its borders. After this announcement, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia warned that if Germany and Austria close its borders, Bulgaria will follow suit. On 25th of October, leaders representing Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia met at the European Commission to discuss the Western Balkans Migration Route. They develop a Plan of Action, which includes such topics as:

  • exchange of information o supporting refugees.
  • managing migration flow 0 border management.
  • tackling smuggling.
  • information on the rights and obligations of refugees and migrants and monitoring.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, addressed the European Parliament about the migratory crisis facing Europe and confirms the importance of protecting Europe's external borders. He also highlights the upcoming summit of European and African leaders and expresses a goal that it will help to 'forge a real Euro-African partnership on the migration issue.’

Just before the end of October, the European Commission gave Greece 5.6 million euros from Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AIMF), because of increasing number of arrivals. Slovenia, on the 10th of November 2015, received 1.5 million euros for protection of their borders.

In November, Slovenia decided to fence the perimeter of its border to control the next waves of refugees, but Austria will not employ the use of fences along their border with Slovenia according to reports from agency ARA and Johanna Mikl-Leitner. The International Monetary Fund found that the burden of the Refugee Crisis was assessed as manageable. With trains and buses, refugees were removed from Austria and are transported to various cities in Germany. Upon arrival in the camps they have to register and then apply for asylum.

The Current Global Climate

The role of the Arabian countries

An expert regarding the Middle Eastern situation, Mr. Luay Al-Khatteeb, gave a clear description of the role which the Gulf States, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have played in the migrant crisis. In his article entitled ‘The Gulf states should do more for Syrian refugees’, Al-Khatteeb expresses his arguments about what these countries have done already and also what they could do further in the future, in order to face the refugee crisis.

The condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Councils (GCC) stance on the region's refugee crisis has reached a crescendo in some quarters of the western media, and while this has forced the GCC to defend its record, they have countered criticism by asking the world to do more. Many commentators have noted the vast wealth of the GCC countries, which has so far helped Gulf countries to weather the storm of collapsing oil prices. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided some $900 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians. The United Arab Emirates have donated $530 million in aid since 2012. Problematically, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' Syria Regional Response Plan has requested another $4.5 billion, to ensure basic dietary and sanitation conditions in the refugee camps.

This catastrophic funding crisis risks condemning generations of refugees to live in camps indefinitely. If the GCC could match aid for Syrians to the economic assistance it donates to friendly governments, the impact could be huge.

Consider economic aid; The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offered $4.9 billion in economic assistance to Egypt when their economy was in crisis which formed part of the $20 billion aid package the GCC block committed to stabilize Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi's economy, which is substantially bigger than the total U.S. aid to Jordan since 1951. The GCC has an exemplary and consistent historical record of its willingness and capacity to provide sanctuary and employment to citizens of troubled Arab and African nations since their independence from Western colonial powers.

As a matter of fact, compared to other countries, the GCC has contributed more than its fair share to assisting refugees (based on GDP) according to data from Oxfam. Gulf officials have been consistently stressing that millions of dollars in financial aid has been allocated to refugee camps in Arab countries including Syria.

Certainly, the GCC doesn't hold back on aid expenditure. In 2013, the United Arab Emirates was the largest foreign aid donor. The problem here is one of perception. Donations from some members of the GCC make aid allocated to the Syrian crisis seem small, and further bring into question the priorities of the council. For example, the $4 billion the GCC have contributed since 2012 amounts to only 15 percent of the $26 billion they have pledged in financial assistance to countries such as Egypt and Morocco. However, according to a World Bank MENA report, by July 2013, GCC economic assistance to the region exceeded their pledge and stood at $40 billion.

The GCC are conscious of a sizable number of Syrians living in the Gulf. The UAE claims to have taken in 130,000 Syrian economic migrants since 2011. Elsewhere, the Saudi Ambassador to Rome, Raed bin Khaled Grimly, defended his country in a press statement by highlighting that around 40 percent of his country's total population are expats, including 500,000 Syrians and 1,500,000 Yemenis, noting that they enjoy work residency, free healthcare and education.

But claims of accommodating hundreds of thousands of Syrians have also been called into question: Francoise De Bel-Air of the Florence Migration Centre recently noted that figures given by the Saudi Arabian Central Department of Statistics did not match their claims of the number of Syrians being hosted.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that millions are unable to enter the GCC without encountering difficult visa restrictions because the GCC has no obligation to recognize Arabs fleeing war torn countries as refugees, since they are not yet signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

The fundamental reason for the restrictions placed on asylum seekers by the GCC is to preserve a fragile "demographic balance" given the relatively small number of the indigenous population and their particular societal structure that GCC members need to maintain for domestic stability. Meanwhile, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq have taken far more refugees than their resources or internal security arrangements could possibly cater for. In the case of Lebanon, this is 1.3 million refugees or almost 1 in 4 of the population, placing welfare services under serious strain. Elsewhere, Turkey has so far taken in 2 million refugees.

As a possible modest and short-medium term solution, the GCC could provide temporary housing such as the type provided to the Bedouin or stateless communities, which comprise a notable part of the populations of countries, such as Kuwait.

These housing units provide reasonable habitation for $1000-$3000 per unit with access to social amenities. Granted it is not ideal, but the living conditions are much better than life in the camps which fast became ghettos with chronic sanitary infestations. It is worth mentioning that thanks to UAE funding, a compound of such housing units was built in Jordan even though it has the capacity to only house approximately 25,000 people. Meanwhile Turkey has built several similar sites often referred to as "5 star" refugee camps.

Long term solutions are needed. Within the GCC, the authorities may have to seriously consider widening for immigration purposes the definition of 'dependents' for those refugees with relatives already living and working in the Gulf to allow them limited rights of residency. Further safeguards could also be imposed such as passing medical tests, security checks and providing guarantees from sponsors living in GCC countries (relatives or local citizens) and entitlement to employment in certain sectors of the economy.

Alternatively, the UN may reach some sort of multilateral arrangement with the GCC to allow those with UN papers the right of entry into makeshift housing compounds which would fall under the administration and protection of the UN but subject of course to the host nations' local laws.

He concludes saying that the GCC should seize the plight of refugees as an opportunity to foster unprecedented regional cooperation for the sake of their own domestic security. According to him, the pressing question now facing Arab leaders is what are they waiting for? Given the freezing of relations between Russia and the U.S. and Europe, it is time for the GCC to demonstrate bold leadership and finally take the lead in solving the Arab refugee crisis.

The Role of Germany in The Migration Crisis

According to the European Institute for Statistics, Germany is the most involved European country in the refugee crisis. Above all, Germany has in fact a strategic geographic position that since 2013 has attracted many refugees coming from the Middle East. As from now, Germany has received thousands of Syrian refugees and 800,000 individuals are expected to come this year alone, but these are only forecasts and given the circumstances, they could also constantly increase. During July 2015, the German Government announced that the Nation was ready to welcome and provide shelter and accommodation to 500,000 refugees. In reality, Germany started to manage the situation a long time before. It is possible to identify the measures adopted and implemented by the German government from both the institutional and the non-institutional level.

The institutional level has two main actors who are currently taking action to manage the situation. The first one is of course the German Government, considered in its main and larger definition, which includes the Bundestag procedures and the opinion given by the official Ministries. Instead, the second actor includes the government specialized agencies and the international governmental organizations involved in the field, such as the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), and the German regional offices of both the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR (The United Nations High Committee for Refugees).

All of them act following the principles of the Geneva Convention on Refugees of 1951 and the Common European Asylum System.

The Geneva Convention is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligation of states.

The convention adopts the following definition of a refugee:

a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country [..] ;

The Common European Asylum System recognizes that asylum is a fundamental right, granting it is an international obligation. This system ensures that European countries will share the same fundamental values and provides for all the Member States a joint approach to guarantee high standards of protection for refugees.  Since its foundation in 2005, several initiatives are being implemented to make the asylum procedures quicker and more efficient, such as the creation of the European Refugee Fund that collects 630.000.000 euros to support EU countries’ efforts in receiving refugees and the resettlement programs, and the Family Reunification Directive.

The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

Following the principles mentioned above, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is managing the situation by taking care of the refugee’s arrival to Germany, their official registration and also the management of the asylum policies. As stated in the Common European Asylum Policies, the refugee or subsidiary protection status is granted in Germany, and this provides certain rights, such as access to a residence permit, the labor market and healthcare.

Once the registration procedures end in the competent federal office, refugees are distributed around the country according to the EASY system, which manages distribution around the country, and the "Königsteiner Schlüssel" method, a quota based allocating system the German government has adopted to ensure equal treatment to all the refugees and a more efficient distribution. This system is implemented for the individual German Landers, and it defines each year specific acceptance quotas for each of them. This implies a certain percentage of refugees that each State is obliged to take, which is calculated based on the Lander’s capacity.

The table below shows the quotas for 2015:


Federal Lander

Estimated Quota















Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania


Lower Saxony


North Rhine-Westphalia















The International Organization for Migration

The International Organization for Migration, from now on IOM, is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and it is mostly involved in the management of migration, as it believes that migration is also an economic, social and cultural development affair. Since the beginning of the crisis, the IOM has been providing food, shelter and transportation assistance to the Syrian refugees and constantly collects data on the situation by releasing every month a complete and updated report.

The IOM German office is managing the internal and the external situation by giving assistance to the government programs and by implementing specific fundraising activities and specific projects such as the Regional and Multi-Sector Assistance to Populations Affected by the Syrian Crisis in Syria. This project is now concluded, and it worked as a partnership for providing relief, assistance and other activities that were directly implemented through the IOM field offices in Syria.

The United Nations High Committee on Refugees – UNHCR

The UNHCR is member of the UN system and it is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve the refugee problems worldwide. The UNHCR representation in Germany is actively participating in the situation defining specific priorities and needs.


Currently, the office is providing help and assistance to the government, in order to ensure that the asylum and protection system will stay fair and increase its efficiency. Further, the office will also pursue in supporting the conference of refugees law in Germany. By being involved with judicial engagement and court interventions, it will be possible for the office to be more helpful as it could be able to ensure the correct application of relevant laws in refugee cases. In addition, the advocacy activities made by the staff of the sub-regional office helped the German government to build a more sustainable and inclusive Resettlement Program.

The non- institutional Level

There is not a specific and proper definition for the non-institutional level as it comprehends a wide variety of different kinds of actors, and it is dynamic and constantly changing. From an academic point of view, the non-institutional level is mostly involved with the civil society. Civil society includes actors such as NGO’s, both local and international, private foundations and some volunteering organizations, and deals with more operational projects and activities. The capital city of Berlin is currently hosting two welcoming centers, one located in the district of Schoneberg and a bigger one in the district of Moabit. Inside these centers there a lot of volunteers, and NGO representatives who are providing help and assistance.

From the side of the NGO’s, both Save the Children Germany and the Jesuit Refugee Service Germany needs to be mentioned. Save the Children Germany is providing a lot of help and support in the camps and welcoming centers, by ensuring health assistance to children and also organizing social activities for them and by collecting volunteers.

In addition, the Jesuit Refugee Service Germany is taking part in providing help and relief, an international catholic organization with the mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of the refugees and other displaced persons. The organization recently opened a new regional office in the city of Munich, in addition to the office located in Berlin.

Since September 2015, when refugees arrived in Munich central Station and from then on, the Jesuit Refugee Service Germany significantly increased its advocacy activities in human rights, by trying to ensure better conditions in the welcoming centers spread around the country, and they also provide spiritual assistance.

Further, they opened a web forum in which they make refugee’s voices public and let them say how they really feel. Thanks to this forum Jesuit Refugee Service Germany provides them with the possibility of expressing their opinion and their basic needs.

At least in Germany, the more the situation worsened and the number of people increased, NGO’s took action with new helpful initiatives. The help and the commitment in providing help to refugees and in the support of this cause is very impressive and it’s involving the whole German society, from students and volunteers to third sector companies and businesses. Among these initiatives, “Refugees Welcome” and “Give Something Back to Berlin” are those which are gaining more followers. Although they are still very new, they need to be mentioned, as they are the practical example of the people’s commitment mentioned above.

“Refugees Welcome” is an initiative founded by Mareike Geiling, Golde Ebding, and Jonas Kakoschke. All of them have a long and verified former experience in the management of migrants, as they were all working on similar issues either in Berlin or in other countries. The idea behind this project is that, once arrived into a given country, refugees could be able to live in shared flats or in normal housing conditions.

More specifically, “Refugees Welcome” acts in more than 20 countries as a platform that serves as an online flat booking agency for all the people who are interested in helping a refugee by hosting them in their own flat. Once, they have listed their property on the web, the “Refugees Welcome” staff will put them in touch, through a refugee organization, with a person who fled to their country or, if already possible, to their city. The “Refugees Welcome” team will then find solutions to contribute in the rental payment and will keeping on supporting them. If well promoted, this initiative could really be an alternative way to avoid overcrowding in camps and the consequent lack of decent accommodation for refugees. Further, it is certainly a way to make the integration processes faster and, above all, volunteer.

“Give Something Back to Berlin” is also a very good initiative. Founded in 2013, GSBTB is the first and the largest project platform and network that makes social engagement and neighborhood work accessible to the large non-German speaking population of Berlin. In this way, it created a tool for community integration that brings together more “privileged” migrants, German locals and more vulnerable migrants such as refugees.

The organization is involved with refugee work since 2013, long before the situation exploded in the last few months. Most of all, they organize specific events for the refugees, such as English and German classes, computer skills workshops, and sometimes they also give to the refugees the possibility to organize their own events. Further, the platform connects refugees with other civil society organizations that can provide additional help and relief.

These initiatives show that, behind them, there is a possibility for integration. An example of that could be what happened in the city of Neubrandenburg where 70 Syrian refugees started school in the Am Lindetal School. They had the possibility to attend interactive classes that ran for four hours and are designed to turn young asylum seekers from countries including Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine into fluent German speakers. In addition, teachers at the Am Lindetal school, who exercise a 'zero-tolerance' policy when it comes to hate speech, are determined that the parents or adult asylum-seekers should also get involved in the school, in a bid to create the sense that they belong to the community.

One of the faster ways could be, for example, to draft them as teachers depending on their degrees, for now they have involved a civil engineer who is taking care of the classes of Mathematics and Physics, and an English speaker medical doctor from Syria, who is now an English teacher at the Am Lindeltal School.

These two terms underline the differences in between the official policies and measures, adopted by the government, and the non-official policies that can be defined as voluntary initiatives taken by the civil society in order to contribute to relevant and humanitarian issues. As many academics state this separation, although necessary, can be sometimes confusing, as one is a consequence of the other.

To learn about the complete definition of a refugee, we invite you to read the text of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Source: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

The definition of the quotas depends on specific indicators such as tax receipts and population numbers.

The term civil society firstly appeared in the works of the Greek Philosopher Aristoteles. Now it is mostly intended as the “aggregate of non –governmental institutions that manifests interests and will of citizens”.

On The Ground: Comments from a Migrant and an NGO

Eye Witness: 18 Year Old Boy

Some of the people that are currently in refugee camps left their homes without their families and are unaware of what will happen now. One refugee from Syria – who shall remain anonymous, is an eighteen year old high school student. His schooling is not yet complete; he attended a school that specialises in sciences so that he could pursue his end goal of becoming a civil engineer and had little intention of leaving his home country before the civil war.

Now, he can be found in Berlin, Germany. He fled here with some of his fellow school pupils who left in the middle of a school day to seek safety and obtain a future free from civil conflict. The pupil says he simply followed a group of likeminded students who walked out of school. This walk continued for around one month, until he was safe on German soil. When interviewed, he was alone and so was clearly separated from anybody he had any remote connection to. The point of separation is unclear; but typically, if people are not separated in the commute to a new country, they are separated upon arrival. For this particular individual, he was waiting for transportation to his next port of call. He is unsure where this ‘bus’ will take him, or even when it will arrive – he had already been waiting three days.  

He aims to still pursue his career aims. Firstly, he intends to learn the German language so that he can begin to participate within society once more and sustain himself. He is keen to aid himself; he wants the ability to become autonomous and better himself. For him, what would be of the upmost help is learning the language so that he is not dependent on a translator and can move around Berlin independently and discover what opportunities are available to him. Secondly, he needs to continue his education. It is clear that he is wanting to be independent and so it is important that at this crucial age, his education is streamlined so that he does not become an individual that is disenfranchised from society, but can reach his goal of civil engineering.

Action Taken By VERNO

Association of German Development NGOs (VENRO) and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) had a Conference on the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Berlin and concluded with the following points on the current situation and methods to improve it :

  1. The international community must unite to aid host governments implement the responsibilities set upon them which are:
    • To provide protection, safety and assistance for those seeking refuge from harm without discrimination.
    • To ensure respect for their legal rights by abiding to the international law set by the United Nations and the laws of each sovereign state.
  2. The numbers of refugees escaping Syria will only increase, and they will find different routes through no matter how many borders are being closed (Eastern European countries and Scandinavian in general), so Governments must support charity groups with –
    • Ensuring refugees arrive safely on-shore and speed boats are constantly operating to make sure refugees are not being drowned.
    • Immediate supply of basic necessities (water, food, clothing, etc.) and check-ups on health with funding of basic health equipment.
  3. To call upon host governments to create and develop its comprehensive refugee policies to ensure the rights of refugees via:
    • Right to access humanitarian aid and basic services, the right to livelihoods and the freedom of movement.
    • These refugee communities must be acknowledged as stakeholders.
    • The Syrian people are willing and able to take responsibility for their future. Host governments must give them the right to officially register their humanitarian organizations so that they may also contribute to the improvement of their situation and that of the host communities.
  4. Countries who have actively participated in the Berlin Conference are obligated to double their support in funding humanitarian response to guarantee assistance through -
    • Calling on the donor community to arrange funds on a permanent basis.
    • Making humanitarian actors in charge of deciding how and where the implementation of these funds will occur and, according to the growing requirements of the affected and displaced populations.
    • Increasing efforts to better attach humanitarian and development funding tools, to allow connections from relief to development to build effectively, thus maximising impact.
    • Making funding tools more easily reachable for national NGOs to increase ownership and support local capacity.
    • Allocating development funds to improve infrastructure and basic services which must be available to refugees and host communities.
    • Tailoring public services and assistance programs to the necessities of the refugees, with considerations for age, gender and disability. Consequently, the establishment of reliable and consistent funding will permit NGOs to prioritize much-needed investments, wherever it is needed the most.

Management and Academic commentary

During the recent months, the issue of the refugee crisis caused a deep concern with the public. The media are managing the issue in different ways; people are bombarded daily with a wealth of information and as a result many facts and conditions have been misunderstood.

To make sense of this situation, we gathered in this chapter the views of prominent academics on the issue of the refugee crisis and in particular points that require interpretation as there is confusion among the public opinion. Also, we mention the view of the most important news agencies worldwide to understand how they handle the information broadcasting on the issue of the refugee crisis.

One of the most crucial questions concerning the refugee crisis is whether or not the Syrian refugees pose a terrorist threat - especially after the terror attack in Paris, on the 13th of November 2015. People are trying to connect the refugee crisis with the threat of terrorism because of ISIS.

Daniel L. Byman, Research Director of the Center for Middle East Policy, gives the answer in his article entitled, ‘Do Syrian refugees pose a terrorism threat?’ He states that the actual security risks now are low, but the potential is considerable if the refugee crisis is handled poorly. Concerns about terrorism and the refugees are legitimate, but the fears being voiced are usually exaggerated and the concerns raised often are the wrong ones.

Most people in Europe are not well informed concerning the reasons why refugees are trying to reach their countries and they are contemplating upon the reasons why they should host them. Kemal Kirişci TÜSİAD, expert of the Center on the United States and Europe Director, gives his verdict. The EU refugee crisis needs to be seen against the background of the failure of the international community to help share the burden with these neighbouring countries that are hosting the bulk of the Syrian refugees. After all, the international refugee system was set up on the shared understanding that refugees are an international responsibility, not just the responsibility of the country where they first arrive.

Resettlement of refugees to countries is one widely recognized manifestation of burden-sharing. In spite of numerous appeals by Antonio Guterres (the United Nations high commissioner for refugees) to the EU and the United States to make resettlement available - as of August 2015 there were only about 100,000 spots available, which is less than 3 percent of the overall number of Syrian refugees. The EU and the United States have resettled fewer than 9,000 Syrians since 2011, a truly miniscule number compared to the burden carried by Syria’s neighbours.

As for funding the humanitarian assistance, the burden-sharing has not been much better. The U.N. has struggled to find funding to assist countries hosting refugees and to provide humanitarian assistance into Syria. Only half of the assistance budget for 2014 was met, while in August the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2015 and 2016 remained almost two-thirds underfunded.

In a situation of such protracted displacement, Syrian refugees are increasingly recognizing that hospitality for them in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey has maxed out and “la barque est pleine.” The international community is failing to address the humanitarian crisis—let alone the political one—in Syria; Guterres’s appeals have pretty much gone unanswered. The situation is depressing; Syrian refugees taking the ultimate risk of trusting their self-resettlement to the hands of human smugglers, rather than the EU, the United States and international agencies.

Another pressing question that makes people worry about is how this crisis is going to be faced and what is going to happen after this situation. Elizabeth Ferris, is the co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement in Washington, D.C. and she gave some scenarios of what might happen to the refugees in case that the civil war in Syria is going to be continued (The Syrian Refugee Crisis: What’s Next? http://www.mei.edu/content/at/syrian-refugee-crisis-what%E2%80%99s-next).

Governments in the region continue to allow those refugees already in their countries to remain, albeit temporarily, but do not give them the right to work or full access to education or health care. These host governments also continue to restrict the entry of new refugees. The international community continues to provide support, albeit at a diminishing rate, which keeps the refugees alive but does not allow them to build futures for themselves and their families. This is the most likely scenario. What does this mean when the conflict eventually ends? Many, and perhaps most, of the refugees will return to Syria even before conditions there permit their re-arrival. While timely return is critical to recovery, it will undoubtedly put pressure on post-conflict Syria in the short term as the country will struggle to rebuild devastated cities and meet increasing demand for services by returning refugees and IDPs. The return of Syrian refugees decreases pressure on the host governments, and the refugees who remain are tolerated until they too can go home or successfully, under the radar, integrate into their host communities.

Governments in the region, for political and/or economic reasons, begin to force refugees to return or to move elsewhere. This is unlikely to occur in the form of large-scale forced deportations, but instead via a quiet tightening of the already tight screws on refugees - which include crackdowns on illegal labour and more restrictions on refugees’ lives; such as curfews and other constraints on freedom of movement and higher fees to renew documents or access services. This tightening may also include an increase in spontaneous attacks against refugees. International support can no longer keep up its end of the bargain, and host governments deciding to take matters into their own hands and act in accord with their national interests. There are signs that this is beginning to happen. As pressure builds, more refugees leave, with some taking their chances on the dangerous border and sea crossings to Europe, some returning to Syria even though the war continues, and many living in ever more desperate conditions as refugees. When the conflict ends, most of the refugees in neighbouring countries will return quickly. Those who have made their way to distant lands will probably not return soon. She believes that the refugee crisis forces a political solution.

The professor Elliott Abrams, from CFR, gives an extensive answer about how the Syrian refugee crisis is going to be resolved. According to his opinion, a wave of Syrian refugees has caught Europe and the United States flat-footed, leaving the European Union scrambling to devise a plan to deal with those arriving on its shores and Americans debating our role in the matter. A humanitarian reaction is natural–but woefully inadequate, because refugees will keep coming as long as the Assad regime continues to brutally repress Syria’s Sunni majority. Only by bringing the conflict to an end will the flow of ever more thousands of refugees stop. This crisis was neither unpredictable nor unavoidable. Syrians have been fleeing, or being forced from, their homes in massive numbers since 2011. Nine million Syrians have reportedly been displaced. More than half remain in Syria, while the vast majority of the others have taken refuge in nearby countries. Lebanon, which has only about 4 million citizens, hosts more than a million refugees. That’s one Syrian refugee for every four Lebanese; by comparison, even if 800,000 migrants seek asylum in Germany, as is anticipated, it would amount to one refugee for every 100 Germans.

The United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Syrians, giving $4.1 billion since 2011, but has only taken in around 1,500 refugees. The Obama administration recently pledged to accept an additional 10,000. Doing so is consistent with U.S. values and with past practice: The United States accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees from Cuba, Vietnam, Northern Iraq, and Kosovo in recent decades.

Accepting more refugees as part of a significant international effort at burden-sharing would also benefit our national interest, primarily by easing conditions in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Given the chaos gripping the Middle East, any investment in these allies’ stability merits careful consideration. While any refugees should undergo appropriate vetting to ensure that they pose no threat to U.S. security, those from Syria and Iraq should not be regarded with special fear or apprehension. It would be a bitter irony if those fleeing from Islamic State’s barbarity and Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs were blamed for the crimes of their tormentors.

The U.S. and Europe have been woefully unprepared to cope with the wave of migration is symptomatic of the Obama administration’s broader attitude toward the Syrian conflict: bide our time and hope it goes away or can be contained.  Together the U.S. and allies should more decisively seek to address the Syrian conflict itself, not merely its symptoms. The refugee crisis vividly illustrates that this means taking action against not just ISIS but also the Assad regime; the refugees are not merely the by-product of general conflict in Syria but a key element of Mr. Assad’s brutal and cynical strategy. Assad policy seems to be to drive out millions of Sunnis so that his Alawite minority group comes to represent a much larger portion of Syria’s population.

The recent Russian military build-up in Syria appears designed to protect Mr. Assad and to provide him and Moscow with leverage against the U.S. and its allies in any diplomatic talks on Syria’s future. Maddening though this may be, it reflects the reality of how diplomacy is conducted: not merely through talks and conferences but also by creating facts on the ground that set the stage for deliberations. While Russia’s presence constrains U.S. options in Syria, it does not vitiate them or render us impotent.

Rather than being cowed by Vladimir Putin’s gambit, the U.S. and its allies should continue to insist that any diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict requires Mr. Assad to step down and a representative government to succeed him. And we should reinforce this position with action. A good place to start would be the creation of “safe zones” in Syria that could offer a haven to refugees and places to work with the Syrian opposition. Maintaining such zones would require a significant Western contribution, including air support and perhaps limited personnel on the ground. But as the refugee crisis and ISIS-inspired terror attacks demonstrate, inaction has not spared the U.S. from the costs of Syria’s conflict.

U.S. agreement and contribution to creating such zones in Syria should be tied to our regional allies, agreeing to provide financial and military support–including in the form of ground forces able to help police the areas. Just as important, our allies must agree to refrain from supporting extremists and, instead, act jointly with the U.S. to channel support and aid to responsible elements of the Syrian opposition. Together, we should redouble efforts to stanch the flow of men, money, and materiel to Mr. Assad and ISIS, which prosper in perverse symbiosis with one another.

Regrettably, the refugee crisis is likely the first of many reverberations of the breakdown of Syria and Iraq that we will have to cope with in the years to come. With earlier action, we probably could have prevented it. But it is not too late to reduce the magnitude of the crisis or to stem further fallout from these conflicts by acting more decisively to resolve them.

Examining the view of the media regarding the refugee crisis, we are citing some of the most remarkable coverages, which were broadcasted from the international news agencies. The famous magazine, which is expertized in international relations, The Diplomat had written about the role of China concerning about the Syrian refugee crisis. According to The Diplomat, China has played a low-profile role in the refugee crisis and the Syria crisis in general, but there’s potential for it to do more. In particular, China’s close relationship with Russia (which has been conducting airstrikes in Syria in support of the embattled Assad regime) and its friendly ties with Iran (one of Assad’s strongest backers) give it a unique role to play in peace talks.

The British newspaper, The Guardian published an article entitled Syrian refugee crisis: why has it become so bad? The answer is structured in 6 main arguments. The first one is that the war is not getting any better; the second is that Turkey is not a country for people to stay in for the long term; the third is that the UN bodies working with millions of refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are complaining that they are running out of money, making camp conditions harsher than in the past and life more untenable for Syrians who live on their own but still depend on UN subsidies; the fourth reason is that people have finally saved up enough money for paying the smugglers who bring them to EU. The point is that there is now a known route. People have long trekked through the Balkans to the EU, but Syrians were not previously among them. That changed late last summer, when the first few Syrians found the Balkan route to Europe. Those trailblazers told their friends, who told their friends, who set up Facebook groups about it. Suddenly a phenomenon was born – and one that grew faster when people realised that the window might not stay open for much longer. And sixth, the crisis is only a crisis because of the European response to it. EU countries have spent all year debating and procrastinating about an appropriate solution to Europe’s biggest refugee movement since the Second World War.

The German news agency DEUTCHE WELLE is showing an interview of the Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who is pointing that the refugee crisis is endangering the EU. Mr. Asselborn is warning that the strain of the refugee crisis could cause the EU to collapse. The DW criticizes his opinion pointing that he is right, but for the wrong reasons.

Also the French news agency REUTERS is expressing the opinion that the Europe's economy will strengthen if countries invest in efforts to cope with the refugee crisis. It is broadcasting what the president of the European Central Bank told to the EU lawmakers.

According to the reportage of the REUTERS’ reporter, Francesco Guarascio, the tide of migrants, the biggest movement of people in Europe since World War Two, will deeply change the social texture of the continent, but "if properly managed, if there are investments in this change, the Union and the euro area will emerge stronger in due time," Mario Draghi told the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European Parliament in Brussels. Draghi said public investments were required to deal with the crisis, but that it was "premature to say by how much governments' deficits will have to expand in order to invest in this development".

Comments from the Contributors

The understanding of the crisis between member states questions the virtues of the European Union. In order to become a member state of the European Union, a state must assent to the European Convention on Human Rights which states in article 5 “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty…” While some states limit this right to those within their jurisdiction, it is clear that other states feel as though these rights are essential to all persons, regardless of their citizenship.  

Since the European Convention on Human Rights is only binding on the official member states, no country is legally obligated to aid the refugees, but on moral grounds, there is a case. These rights should be treated as virtues with intrinsic value and so transcend borders and official legislation. On a supranational level, the European Union would benefit from some schema that allows for at least temporary accommodation of refugees in crisis times, as Joanne Van Selm-Thorburn suggests in Refugee Protection in Europe: Lessons of the Yugoslav Crisis. The efforts of individuals cannot aid this process through much more than lobbying the European Union and other national and supranational bodies, but there is still a part for the individual to play.

The refugees that have arrived in European countries need the resources to be able to contribute economically to gain their own independence and alleviate some of the financial strain a crisis may bare on the economy of a county. The first step towards integration is communication, thus the most obvious obstacle to overcome is that of language. Secondly, many refugees are skilled in professions that may not be accredited in the host country. To this ends, conversion courses and up-skilling workers is beneficial for all in such a scenario. Local businesses and individuals can contribute in these areas to undermine any slump that an economy may experience after allowing mass amounts of people into a country. 

Maugan Adina Dixon

The crisis Europe is now facing is not only about refugees, neither only about Syria or regimes. This is something that came long before, and that started in early 2010 with the Arab Spring, when the first refugees of the century started their boat trip through the Mediterranean Sea, but then history can show a thousands of other examples, “it was always burning, since the world has been turning” we could say by using Billy Joel ’s words in his celebrated song, We didn’t start the fire.

What is becoming more clearer now is that this is something about identity and maybe, the whole concept of citizenship should change. In its main definition, citizenship is the share of the same values, which comes before traditions, customs and religion. 

So, if they are sharing our same values by fighting violence and intolerance, why it is so easy to leave them in this stand-by status?

Silvia Pennazzi Catalani

The European Union is doing everything they can to prevent the European refugee crisis from worsening. Closing borders to people who need help is not an option. We have to open our borders and become ¨one country¨ that would be led together to create a more unified Europe. The things that have been happening in the last 8 years in the Middle East were expected to at some point impact the rest of the population which is why we have to help them. The West has had a history of involvement in providing aid to the middle east and with the crisis only worsening it is their duty to continue to support those most in need. Although initially Europe struggled to form a coherent, effective solution to the problem, as the crisis has developed, the previously unstable and indecisive strategy has been developed under a strong and cohesive leadership that effectively demonstrates European power. Meetings are now happening more regularly with increased communication.

People who were coming maybe were not refugees escaping the war, but we have to know that this kind of thing was happening before, just not in such large numbers. We had two big waves of people coming and we will have more, who are hungry, psychologically exhausted and sick of waiting. I’m not saying we have to feel bad for them but we have to show a little heart and help them just in a little way as we would like to be helped if we were in the situation. Religion was always present but the point is that people are arriving in large numbers and religion is now being associated negatively to the events in the Middle Eastern conflict.

After the recent tragic events that happened in Paris and Beirut, where hundreds of innocent people have been killed, the welcoming position of Germany towards refugees has the possibility to change. Public opinion regarding the refugees could potentially develop into a negative direction which could heavily affect European governments’ policies surrounding the subject. The Polish government has already announced its disagreement with the recent EU decision to open borders in order to offer protection to Syrians and other refugees fleeing conflict.

It is now important to continue to welcome refugees, allowing them safe passage across European borders avoiding any knee jerk reactions due to the fear of terrorist attacks - immigrants are escaping from terror too. Although it is possible that one of the suspects of the attack on Friday night in Paris arrived in Europe through Greece as a refugee, it has not been confirmed. Safeguards should of course be implemented to prevent terrorists from entering in Europe disguised as refugees such as checking the identity of each person crossing European borders; the EU’s duty is to dismantle terrorist networks in Europe as well as guaranteeing the protection of refugees.

Kaja Odar and Nora Bianchi

The refugee crisis is the new condition that we should get familiar with. First of all, the solution would be the end of the civil war in Syria and the amelioration of the degraded situation in the area of Middle East, but this demands a political solution. The whole plan about the managing of the refugee crisis should be structured on political agreements between the countries in order to give an end to this dramatic situation. States should cooperate and help by giving money for the accommodation of the refugees, by providing them a safe environment to live in, and of course by stopping the war in order to help these people to be able to return to their homeland and rebuild their lives.

Also the societies of the countries should cooperate, in order to host the refugees efficiently and to help them to be adopted in the new environment and start their lives again. Volunteering is the best way to help. There many charity organisations or NGOs who are very active in helping the refugees and except our funding they need also human resources to contribute to their work.

Alexandra Ktisti

In regards to the refugees who have been taken in from the European countries, we should focus on applying the humanitarian assistance provided by countries and NGO’s more directly. It would be beneficial to utilise the funds to improve the conditions of the temporary accommodations for refugees across Europe and to be more efficient in aiding the services that determine who truly are refugees and those who are posing as refugees, so we can help those who are more in need of it. In regards to the public perception of refugees, we should establish the fact, at a supranational level, that the refugees have been out of Syria for about 5 years and living in temporary accommodation across the Middle East and Europe out of necessity due to the situation in Syria. Therefore, they are helpless and in need of help from the international community, in particular Europe as they are in need of economic migrants and a large proportion of the refugees are educated to a satisfactory level and skilled in varying professions. Nevertheless, the vast majority are not able to converse in German, so that should be addressed immediately with intensive language courses.

Shahroze Amar

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Ktisti Alexandra

Academic commentary

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Ktisti Alexandra

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Kaja Odar


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Pennazzi Catalani Silvia

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Where are they now?

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Ktisti Alexandra

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