Why the ‘refugee crisis’ isn’t really a crisis

Over the past few weeks the term ‘refugee crisis’ has become a regular headline and familiar term to all of us in the UK. The shocking pictures of drowning bodies, rough sleepers and hopeless people are reminders of past devastations; the 2005 Tsunami, the earthquake in Nepal and every civil war for the last 50 years. Our public conscience has been galvanised by the closeness of the ‘crisis’ and our individual ability to make a tangible difference. But if we are truly to address the problem we need to stop thinking of this as a ‘crisis’.

A crisis is ‘a time of intense difficulty or danger’. While each refugee is in a time of crisis, where purely living to the next day is a difficulty, this mass migration of asylum seekers to the EU is a longer term problem that we need to address. The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in 2014 is estimated at 219,000, four times the amount of the previous year*, and this number is expected to rise even further for the amount of people arriving in 2015. Instead of seeing this as a limited-time crisis, where we donate money and blankets then forget all about it, we need to take further steps to ensure we have plans in place to continue supporting refugees as they come in ever increasing numbers.

The political process is often slow and the hardest setting to mobilise support. For example, EU ministers are meeting yet again today to debate the plans to impose quotas of refugees. But it is by engaging in this process that individuals can put their voices together to fight for longer term solutions to this ever increasing problem.

For ways to campaign check out our page on ‘things to say’.

*Figures taken from ‘Europe’s boat people’ by The Economist, April 25th-May 1st.