Updated: May 6, 2021
The history of humanity has always been characterized by migratory movements. However, today we speak of a migratory crisis, a term that has become the implication of an emergency reality, unprecedented and requiring a response that is equal to what is happening. It is subject to fears and questions, especially in the northern societies of our globe.
The term migration crisis invaded the European media and political environment in the course of 2015. Asylum requests in the European Union doubled compared to the previous years: 1.3 million requests (Eurostat, 2019). The war in Syria and the numerous images of migrants arriving in dramatic conditions dominate the media news and the population is alarmed.
An idea spread: It is necessary to fight against this massive immigration. More and more barriers are put in place, the borders are reinforced. This forces us to ask the question: is there really a migration crisis?
Immigration in numbers
The term migration crisis means that Europe is facing an uncontrolled increase in the influx of migrants. Let's look at some figures.
According to Eurostat, from 2014 to 2015, the number of asylum applications for the European Union increased from 626,960 to 1,321,600 (Europarl, 2021). It is impossible to deny the value of these numbers. However, does this increase really have uncontrollable consequences? Despite the increase in asylum seekers, these people still only represent 0.2% of the European population (AEDH, 2019). In concrete terms, this represents two applicants per 1,000 Europeans. In comparison, Lebanon has received 1.5 million refugees, representing 165 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Moreover, since 2016 the number of asylum seekers in the territory has been decreasing with a significant drop in 2017: 705,705 applicants (AEDH, 2019). Continuing to compare current migration flows to those of 2015 perpetuates the feeling that we are facing a migration crisis and therefore leads to an erroneous analysis of the real situation on the ground.
The importance of the terms used
The expression migratory crisis has fallen victim to a political and ideological revival. It has become the source of conflicts and tensions and is the result of a certain ethnocentric vision: it talks about all the consequences that the situation has had on our Europeanized societies but it erases the real crisis. The one that leads millions of people to take dangerous migratory routes for their physical and mental integrity.
Obviously, there are many things that need to be addressed, but we have to be careful with the terms we use, because they imply consequences that are equal to them.