News / Europe

    Europe’s Migrant Challenge Expected to Continue Into 2016

    Europe’s Migrant Challenge Expected to Continue Into 2016i
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    Luis Ramirez
    December 29, 2015 7:07 PM
    Europe in 2015 faced its most severe migration crisis in centuries as an estimated one million people – mostly Muslims – fled war in Syria and poverty in other countries of the Middle East and Africa and made the complicated trek across Turkey and eastern Europe to reach Western Europe. With another three million migrants and refugees expected in 2016, the mass migration has raised questions about the future of Europe and the ability of its countries to absorb the migrants both culturally and economically. VOA Europe Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
    Luis Ramirez

    Europe in 2015 faced its most severe migration crisis in centuries as an estimated one million people – mostly Muslims – fled war in Syria and poverty in other countries of the Middle East and Africa and made the complicated trek across Turkey and eastern Europe to reach Western Europe.

    With another three million migrants and refugees expected in 2016, the mass migration has raised questions about the future of Europe and the ability of its countries to absorb the migrants both culturally and economically.

    Migrants had been pouring into Europe for months, but images of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy on a Turkish beach in September shocked the world and drew Western sympathy for those fleeing a worsening conflict in Syria.

    Thousands embarked daily on the trek through Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, and finally to a gap in the border fence between Serbia and Hungary, the last stretch before reaching the Austrian border, the gateway to western Europe.

    Migrants are seen walking towards Austria in Sentilj, Slovenia, Oct. 30, 2015. Asylum-seekers hoping to reach Western Europe turned to crossing Slovenia after Hungary closed its border with Croatia with a barbed-wire fence.
    Migrants are seen walking towards Austria in Sentilj, Slovenia, Oct. 30, 2015. Asylum-seekers hoping to reach Western Europe turned to crossing Slovenia after Hungary closed its border with Croatia with a barbed-wire fence.

    Candies, cigarettes, and then what?

    In Vienna, trains arriving from Hungary were met by applause.  Young Austrian women welcomed the migrants and refugees with candies and cigarettes.  One woman, Denise Neuhauser, said Europe could not turn these people away, and questions about culture and assimilation are another discussion, for another time.

    “I really do not know what the bigger picture is, but right now, take care of the people, give them food, give them drink, give them shelter, and let them pass through,” Neuhauser said.

    A focal point of the influx was Budapest’s main train station, where most said their final destination was Germany or Sweden, where generous public assistance programs promised them a future.  There, Tariq, a 25 year-old university student from a suburb of Damascus, said Hungary offered him food and a place to sleep, but no money. He said he was heading for Germany.

    “Germany helps people, if they need to study, if they need to make a new life,” Tariq said.

    FILE - Syrian migrants cross under a fence into Hungary at the border with Serbia, near Roszke, August 2015.
    FILE - Syrian migrants cross under a fence into Hungary at the border with Serbia, near Roszke, August 2015.

    Signs of strain

    But signs of strain came quickly for Europe. Hungary, overwhelmed, put up a razor wire fence and in October, closed its border.  In November, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, announced tighter border controls and asylum rules.

    The Swedish leader called the migrant situation untenable and said it is clear the migration policies of the European Union need to be completely reviewed.

    European skepticism grew even more after the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Two of the attackers had traveled to Europe undetected, posing as refugees.  

    Earlier in the year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country is a strong, prosperous society with the strength to help and absorb the migrants.  By year’s end, that welcoming attitude appeared to have shifted under the pressure of the sheer numbers of new arrivals and political pressure at home.

    Speaking at her Christian Democratic Union party’s year-end convention, Merkel said Germany wants to, and will, reduce the number of refugees entering the country.
     
    The year 2015 ended with discussions among EU members on beefing up borders, but Europe has no comprehensive plan on dealing with the influx, a phenomenon that leaders say will continue to be a test for the region in 2016 and beyond.

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    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 03, 2016 7:15 PM
    Europe always manages to sow the seeds of its own destruction. There really are no democracies in Europe and the EU itself is anything but democratic. Instead European nations and the EU are run by elites and by bureaucrats who have a free hand to do as they please. The populations buy into the fine sounding platitudes that promise a glorious future without question or debate until the polices blow up in their faces. As the EU economies and social structures are blowing up, Europe created a new demographic bomb for itself even larger than the one President Obama predicted would eventually explode during his campaign in 2008.

    The disaster in Ukraine was also an EU invention.

    Sorry Europe, America can't help you this time. You're on your own. We only do world wars.

    by: Roland from: Netherlands
    December 31, 2015 10:16 AM
    Merkel sounds delusional to anyone who knows anything about the history of Muslim migration in Europe. Her words like "strong" and that Muslims will have to accept German values and culture are delusional, everyone in Europe said that about the millions of Muslim migrants that arrived before.

    It will not be them that will adopt to German values and culture it will be Germans adopting to their values and culture. This latest wave of Muslim migrants is not a new thing. The scale and speed might be something new , but Muslim mass migration to Europe has been going on since the second half of the twentieth century. Mostly through guest worker programs, de-colonisation and resettlement programs, "family reunification" and "asylum" as well as illegal migration and subsequent "pardons".

    It's a creeping Islamization where more and more laws are adopted and changed to accommodate Islamic Sharia law. Curbs on civil liberties like freedom of speech are especially strong as well as concepts of equality between men and women, separation of Church and state. Crime, terrorism , rape are all symptoms of it.
    In Response

    by: William
    December 31, 2015 8:48 PM
    Hijrah -Conquest by immigration is well underway as prescribed in the Qu'ran.The Trojan Horse theory is well underway. Within a few decades the world will be Islamic. As Gaddafi once said "we don't need force to conquer,we simply immigrate,procreate and
    eventually vote our own people into power without firing a shot" .Our veterans of the past must be spinning in their graves as all of their sacrifices to preserve our culture,values are being handed over by politically correct politicians.Our grandchildren will never forgive us .

    by: PermReader
    December 31, 2015 9:40 AM
    Old woman Merkel by herself can decide the demography of Germans? There are international laws of occupation that prevents the population movements by the occupants. Liberal authorities of Europe use the power to open immigration from "developing" countries.This immigrants always support leftist parties (as in France).Immigration permission must be decided by the native population.

    by: Thor
    December 30, 2015 10:28 PM
    “European skepticism grew even more after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Two of the attackers had traveled to Europe undetected, posing as refugees.”
    EU has a deep history of accepting refugees. They are trying to help as much as they can; however, now the host countries of Syrian refugees have to protect their own people. They all have sympathy towards Syrian refugees, but this is the difficult issue that we cannot welcome them all regardless of terrorists.

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