Europe Must Take on its Share of the Syrian Refugee Burden, But How?
While peace talks between Syria’s government and opposition bump along in Geneva, battles rage on the ground and the death toll and the refugee wave both rise. Europe wants its voice to be heard in the talks, but can it keep its eyes — and borders — closed to the men, women, and children fleeing Syria? How can Europe better respond to the human and political disaster looming on its external border? Europe has only taken in a small segment (2.9 percent) of the overall Syrian refugee population and European nations have responded to the refugee crisis in an uneven fashion. While asylum opportunities offered to Syrians in Europe have grown, these opportunities have not kept up with the war and obstacles that Syrian asylum seekers meet on their way to the EU have increased. Europe is currently discussing burden-sharing, or “responsibility-sharing” between those member states that are geographically exposed to irregular entries, and those that are not. While this discussion will be crucial to improve the Common European Asylum System, its results will come too late to address a refugee crisis that risks undermining or even overturning fragile states in the Middle East. The current situation is grim, and the near future promises to see the conflict get worse, if anything.