migration

Ai Wei Wei, the renowned Chinese artist who is currently visiting refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos […] has been sharing pictures and videos on his personal Instagram account, drawing attention to the plight of the thousands of refugees risking stormy waters to escape war and hardship.

Overwhelmed by a massive influx of migrants, Sweden is approaching its fiscal and emotional limit and this "humanitarian superpower" is now being forced to hit the brakes.

To be sure, these problems are difficult to resolve. The issue of refugees and displaced peoples is one of the great tests of the international humanitarian ideals of the 21st century, and of the cosmopolitan aspirations of a Europe shaped by ambition to project its soft power and good governance across the world. However, when cosmopolitanism meets state interests under economic pressure, the former is often cast aside. 

Away from the xenophobic hysteria aimed at desperate immigrants are people taking steps to help newcomers and promote the good things they bring. [...] But on a local level, there are thousands of people across the continent who are braving the vitriol of their peers, and filling the void left by the politicians.

As Syrians continue to flee the conflict that rages in their home country, many via war-torn Libya, or Tunisia, which is struggling to keep its youth from joining ISIS, it's all too clear that the effects of the uprisings that swept the southern Mediterranean belt in 2011 are ongoing. Yet already there is talk of more on the horizon.

The EU has always talked a good game about soft power: the civilising influence of its peaceful, rules-based example. The plight of its neighbouring regions makes that talk look increasingly cheap. As long as chaos reigns close to Europe, people will risk their lives to come here. The solution to the migrant problem lies at the source.

On International Migrants Day 2014 (December 18), Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) William Lacy Swing wrote in a New York Times op-ed that 2014 was “the deadliest year for migrants on record” characterized by “unprecedented anti-migrant sentiment worldwide.” 

A migrant family

CPD Research Fellow Tara Ornstein on changing the public perception of migrants.

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