So as the wind blows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, so people will flow from areas of hardship to a place they perceive will bring them more safety and/or prosperity.The migrant crisis essentially includes both migrants and refugees.
The legal distinction between them is clear. I see migrants as people who are on the move, particularly between nations and particularly on a semi-permanent basis.According to the Geneva Refugee Convention, refugees are:”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; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”Regular migrants and refugees could both be in flight for fear of their lives, in the former case simply because they cannot afford food or shelter.There is great discord and danger in many parts of the world. In particular, there is disruptive conflict in (amongst other places) Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, Ukraine and Syria.
The populaces of these places have had enough, and many of them tried to escape months or years ago.Many thousands have died en route, ferried by unscrupulous smugglers across the Mediterranean in ships manifestly unfit for purpose. Many more thousands have made it into the EU, some above the radar as successful asylum seekers and some below the radar as illegal migrant workers.For reasons that are not fully clear to me, many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are now trying to make the journey. We imagine most of the refugeesare from Syria or IS-controlled territory in Iraq. Things are truly awful in those places and I find it very easy to be sympathetic to those people trying to get their families away, despite the great risks.
The ‘push factor’ of their home circumstances is the main factor driving them away. But – up to a point – there is probably a ‘pull factor’ drawing migrants and refugees into the EU also. They don’t tend to head east, but west into the EU where greater hope is to be found.Media coverage in recent months has intensified.
This is a reflection of its increasing draw as a news story (ie migration has stepped up). It feels a bit Catch-22, but I suspect the reason that migration has really peaked in recent weeks is due – in part – to the media attention.My recent blog on the story, following the death of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi:Alan Kurdi’s death creates an opportunity and an obligation on us all