Europe’s divided

A rubber boat carrying around 50 migrants and refugees arrives from Bodrum in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos in the early hours of the morning. Human traffickers charge USD/EUR 1,000-1,300 per person for a trip on a small/medium rubber boat. Assistance to migrants across the islands of arrival is available locally since June according to the available human, material, financial resources, and it has recently intensified in Lesbos, Kos and Samos under IFRC DREF support.National Red Cross Societies are providing vital humanitarian assistance to thousands of people on the move along the Western Balkans migratory trail which links Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, and beyond.

Over recent weeks, thousands of migrants from North Africa have walked through Europe in search of a better standard of living – a displacement the size of which has not been seen since World War II. The Migrant Crisis has sparked a range of reactions from different European political heavyweights as well as the citizens they govern.

David Cameron believes there is “no number” of Syrian’s you can accept that will make the Crisis disappear, and he has been transparent about plans to keep much aid work based outside of the UK. Thus far, the UK have donated more money in aid to help the crisis than any other EU member state.

Cameron expressed how the Crisis “complicates” the British debate on EU membership whilst speaking to the Wall Street Journal. It’s clear that the Crisis makes it harder for Cameron to make a case for Britain remaining in the EU.

EU interior ministers have approved a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across Europe over the space of two years. Germany and France have advocated quotas in order to evenly distribute the migrants across the Union, though Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that it doesn’t make sense to have a quota system as it would not be possible to enforce given the EU open-door policy.

Austrian Chancellor Faumann and other EU leaders blame Orban for the chaos they experienced when they were forced to open the doors to thousands of migrants who had passed through Hungary, many of whom complained of human rights violations.

Within Austria, their right-wing party Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) have doubled their share of their vote in regional elections held since the Crisis began to now 30.4 per cent of the vote as Vienna expects nearly three times the number of asylum applications as last year. Thousands of migrants have travelled through Austria in recent weeks and the FPÖ call for border fencing and take a stance of anti-immigration and ‘anti-islamisation’.

A total of 120,000 persons who are deemed ‘in clear need of international protection’ will be moved from Hungary, Greece and Italy to other EU nations, many of whom are trying to prepare work for the migrants to ‘satisfy labour demands’.

France and Britain will take a combined total of 44,000 – France taking 24,000 over 2 years and Britain taking 20,000 over 5 years, with children and orphans being the priority. USA have also donated $4 billion to Syria’s neighbours since the crisis began.

Rachel Maskell, Labour York MP, in a speech this week said “20,000 is not enough. 30,000 is not enough” and explained that is does not matter if things are “slightly harder,” we should push our limits to reach “saturation point”.

Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have all voted against the mandatory quotas suggested by the EU. Upon losing the vote, the Slovakian Prime Minister said he would not accept the quotas. Finland abstained from the vote, and Poland voted in favour of quotas.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the biggest domestic German businesses have started a campaign to provide migrants with jobs which they consider preferable to having them become state dependent. Germany are expecting 800,000 migrants this year.

The Hungarian Prime Minister has a valid point: With an open door policy, these migrants may relocate themselves wherever in the EU they see fit.

Regardless of their ideologies, what we must remember about those who hold power in Europe, is that it is not their lives that will be changed by this mass migration. It will be the poorer sections of European societies who’s resources will be stretched. There are fundamental questions to be asked about whether such a commitment to the migrants should be decided by a majority vote, or a unanimous decision.