1 Million Refugees: Can Host Countries Cope?

Over one million refugees entered Europe in 2015. Can Europe cope? Does reluctant Parliament have a point? We examine the risks that host countries encounter. 

ECONOMIC PRESSURE

Locals are scared they would lose jobs to refugees as the latter provide cheap and often efficient labour. There is also a fear that the unemployment rate might increase. Refugees usually start with low-paid jobs due to language barriers and later move on to better jobs as they become more acclimatized to the host country.

GROWING THREAT OF VIOLENCE

After the Paris attacks on 13/11/2015, people are more hostile to refugees, fearing that some of them may be involved in terrorist activities. This fear has been exacerbated by the finding of a passport of a Syrian refugee near the body of a dead suicide bomber. This has led to an atmosphere of mistrust towards refugees as the possibility of ISIS infiltrators among the thousands refugees arriving in Europe has become very real in the minds of the people.

RAPE AND PROSTITUTION IN REFUGEE CAMPS

The Gatestone Institute has published reports on the extent to which women are raped in refugee centers in Germany. German social work organizations have found out that “a growing number of women and young girls housed in refugee shelters are raped, sexually assaulted and even forced into prostitution by male asylum seekers” (Gatestone institute). Many of the rapes are taking place in mixed-gender shelters, where, due to limited space, thousands of male and female refugees have to share the same sleeping areas and restroom facilities. According to Bavarian broadcasting, 80% of the refugees at the shelter in Munich are male and the price for sex with a female asylum seeker is only 10 euros. Many victims remain silent on the topic, fearing retaliation.

WIDESPREAD CRIME

Unfortunately, the violence against women is not only occurring in refugee camps but it seems that there is also a growing number of German women being raped or sexually assaulted by asylum seekers. It appears that the influx of refugees correlates with an increase in crime in Germany. Sex assaults and robberies during New Year’s celebrations in Cologne, where at least one was woman raped and many were groped, have raised questions on how effectively Germany could integrate the large numbers of refugees. Police and witnesses said that the men who attacked the women in Cologne were of  “Arab or North African origin”, confirming the fears of the German citizens who are already uncomfortable with the one million asylum-seekers their country took in last year. Andreas Scheuer, general secretary of the Christian Social Union points that “it’s unacceptable that women are sexually molested and robbed by young migrants on the streets and public squares of German cities at night.”  On the other hand, Cologne’s mayor Henriette Reker believes it is “completely improper…to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with refugees”. It is understandable that people are scared but it is unfair to systematically associate someone of North African origin with refugees, especially in such a prejudiced sphere as crime. It is also important to keep in mind the risks of the right-wing using the events in Cologne as “proof” that refugees are “bad” and dangerous and their claim that the “Welcome refugees” culture needs to be reconsidered. Every refugee is an individual and just as there will be criminals in a certain community, it is not surprising that some refugees may turn out to be criminals too. However, shutting borders to thousands of other innocent refugees due to certain individuals who transgress law is not the way to go. Nevertheless, the attacks on women remains highly shocking and disturbing, in particular because it looks like it was organised. “Around 1000 young men arrived in large groups, seemingly with the specific intention of carrying out attacks on women.” BBC

PRESSURE ON THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

The influx of refugee children means there is a need to provide them with education. Schools have to accommodate more students and more teachers are needed. The focus is on teaching the children the language of the host country in order to make the integration easier.

A CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE

Many refugees have acquired diseases on their journey to Europe. Their health problems will become the problems of the host countries. In general, the host countries will need to make sure that they have the resources to provide health care to the newly arrived refugees. 

It remains uncertain whether host countries such as England and France are up to the task of housing so many refugees. But so many of them have nowhere else to go. Is it our moral responsibility to house them, no matter what the risks? 

Written by Anna Vu

This article is part of a Journal series, ‘Refugee Crisis’

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