German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on her European Union counterparts to accept more responsibility in the ongoing migrant crisis by accepting more people seeking refuge. Migrants have been flowing into Europe from the Middle East (mostly Syria) and Africa at record rates this year as the world witnesses the largest movement of displaced people since WWII.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has joined Merkel in declaring that the two nations are being stretched thin. 16,000 migrants have entered Austria since Saturday alone, while Germany has taken in over 800,000 in 2015 so far. While Germany is pledging €3 billion towards the current crisis, European leaders have convened for emergency talks to discuss the best solution for all parties. France and the UK have pledged to take in tens of thousands of refugees over the next few years, but the European Commission is looking to settle over 120,000 people over the next two years.
The current crisis is being exacerbated by the ongoing brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The Syrian civil war is the largest contributor to the current migration, but conflicts across the Middle East (ISIS in Iraq/Syria, Taliban in Afghanistan) and Africa, coupled with the profitability of people smuggling across the Mediterranean from the failed state of Libya to Spain and Greece, has made for a perfect storm and the current humanitarian disaster.
The pressure is on for European lawmakers to find a suitable solution as nations such as Hungary and Denmark are taking a hardline when it comes to accepting refugees. After days of a tense standoff between Hungarian police and refugees at a Budapest train station, hundreds left the station and began walking along the main highway towards Austria in defiance of those trying to keep them at the station until they could find a registration area to begin the asylum process. Meanwhile, Danish authorities have paid for Arabic ads in four Lebanese news papers, warning potential migrants that Denmark is tightening entry requirements, as well as social benefits for those who do make it in.
While there have been politically and racially motivated attacks against temporary migrant shelters in Germany, videos are emerging from the EU’s largest economic power, as well as Austria showing locals welcoming with cheers, signs, as well as food and water for newly-arrived migrants. The German football team Borussia Dortmund have even gone as far as offering 2,000 tickets to a recent match to refugees, while diehard fans unfurled a banner stating, “Refugees Welcome.”
Mixed emotions towards migrants entering Europe en masse will inevitably continue, but the top leaders of the Continent are showing a commitment to solving it in a humane way. So long as the world continues to shine a critical light on them, there’s no doubt they will succeed.