In the first eight months of 2015, more than 350,000 people reached the EU in search of protection or a better life. More than 244,000 people have arrived on the Greek islands alone, almost 90% of whom have come from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. This unprecedented refugee flow is the inevitable result of the worst global refugee crisis since World War II, with around 19.5 million refugees globally, 80 % of whom are hosted in developing countries.
Rather than welcoming a fair proportion of the world’s refugees, the leaders of the EU have mainly focused on border control, the building of fences and enlisting neighbouring countries as gatekeepers. Almost 2800 people have already lost their lives attempting to reach safety in Europe this year. Even when they reach Europe their hardships are far from over, as Amnesty International has documented in Greece, Hungary and elsewhere. This must not, and need not, continue. A concerted emergency response and a radical overhaul of the EU’s failing asylum system are urgently needed.