We need a coherent EU response to migrant crisis
Published 23/09/2015 | 02:30
We are all familiar with the notion of cause and effect; supposedly, a butterfly can flap its wings in the Amazon and set in train a cascade of momentous events. Yet somehow we are still startled by the fact that after years of relentless war-mongering by world powers, our continent should be affected by the cataclysm so long visited on the people of these regions. The forces compelling the millions in war-torn Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East to flee for their lives are not easily resisted. In Europe we still have the luxury of taking for granted that leaving home is always a choice, and not the only option. Today, an emergency summit will be held to come up with some kind of solution to help these desperate people.
In the run-up to this meeting, the UN has helpfully reminded leaders that the 120,000 people the bloc is seeking to share out are equivalent to just six days' worth of arrivals at the current rate. Yesterday, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders suggested that the only way to halt the flow of people pouring into Europe is to end the war in Syria. He said: "It is not only a question of border controls and quotas. If the war in Syria does not end, people will keep coming."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also warned that Europe can only get a long-term grip on the refugee crisis by tackling what is causing people to flee other nations - not by building fences. A global response is essential. But Ms Merkel also said the EU needs to send "signals of order" in the crisis. Most importantly, she said: "We are learning in this refugee situation that we are all connected to each other and our lives are affected if terrible things happen elsewhere." She added: "We will not be able to change that by building fences ... only by fighting the causes."