At an emergency EU summit held in Brussels on September 22, heads of government from the European Union approved a plan to distribute 120,000 migrants fleeing turmoil in the Middle East across Europe.
The plan partially accommodates a request made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to the members of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France, on September 9. Juncker asked EU members to accept 160,000 migrants. Before making his request, Juncker noted that since the beginning of this year, nearly 500,000 refugees have made their way to Europe. The vast majority of them, he stated, are fleeing from war, terrorism, or political oppression in Syria, Libya, or Eritrea.
Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia voted against the measure. Those nations are directly along the major route used by migrants entering Europe through Turkey and destined for Germany and other nations where they expect to build a better life.
As we noted in a September 7 article, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke to Hungarian diplomats in Budapest that day, criticizing efforts by EU leaders to impose immigration quotas before the continent’s borders are made secure. Orban stated:
As long as we can't defend Europe’s outer borders, it is not worth talking about how many people we can take in.... The quota system wants to treat the effects before it treats the causes of immigration. The main reason for this is because [the EU] cannot control its outer borders.
Hungary is building a 110-mile-long fence along its border with Serbia to help stem the tide of migrants, many of whom are headed for Germany.
Southern European nations, such as Greece and Italy, have received a burdensome share of the migrants, with refugees from the ongoing civil war in Syria and neighboring Iraq crossing through Turkey into Greece.
Further to the west, thousands of migrants fleeing Libya and Tunisia on boats have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, located just 113 miles from the Tunisian coast. Many of these migrants have traveled on to Sicily and mainland Italy. Over 6,500 refugees from Syria have also traveled to Italy this year.
Britain’s Daily Mail for September 25 reported a case of extreme desperation. On the previous day, Italian authorities allowed a ship loaded with 1,000 Kurdish illegal aliens from Lebanon or Cyprus to dock in Sicily after Italian coast guard crews saw passengers on board dangling their infants over the side — threatening to drown the babies if they were refused permission to land! The ship was towed to the Sicilian port of Catania, where 400 men, 200 women and 361 children were taken to Red Cross shelters.
The plan agreed to at the EU summit will relocate 50,398 refugees from Greece and another 15,601 from Italy to other EU nations. This represents over half of the 120,00 asylum seekers that the leaders agreed to redistribute.
Germany has taken in more than half a million of these refugees from the Middle East, more than twice as many as the next-highest European Union nation — France. However, Germany finally reached it limits and blocked train traffic from Salzburg, Austria, to stem the tide. Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced the change in policy on September 13, in a statement quoted by Reuters:
At this moment Germany is temporarily introducing border controls again along [the EU’s] internal borders. The focus will be on the border to Austria at first. The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country.
Maizière said after the latest summit meeting: “We are [accepting the EU leaders’ agreement] out of solidarity and responsibility, but also out of our own interest,” and noted that the agreement would “prevent more people who are currently in Greece from coming to Germany.”
A report in the Washington Post cited figures from the UN refugee agency counting more than 477,000 refugees who have arrived in Europe so far this year via often-dangerous Mediterranean crossings, and 6,000 people now arrive on Europe’s shores every day.
As tragic as this humanitarian crisis is, it is worth delving into the reasons that have impelled these tens of thousands of people to flee their homelands. The best explanation (and proposed solution) we have seen was provided by former Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) in an article that first appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and was reposted by The New American with permission on September 6. In that article, Paul noted:
The reason so many are fleeing places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that US and European interventionist foreign policy has left these countries destabilized with no hopes of economic recovery. This mass migration from the Middle East and beyond is a direct result of the neocon foreign policy of regime change, invasion, and pushing “democracy” at the barrel of a gun….
Here is the real solution to the refugee problem: stop meddling in the affairs of other countries. Embrace the prosperity that comes with a peaceful foreign policy, not the poverty that goes with running an empire. End the Empire!
Photo of a pro-refugee rally in Rome: AP Images