This is not a ‘migrant crisis’ – it’s a crisis of inequality and war
Date: 9 May 2016
The media is wrong to characterise the issues surrounding the thousands of people attempting to travel into Europe as a ‘migrant crisis’, according to a briefing released today by campaign group Global Justice Now. Instead, attention should be drawn to the multiple crises that are forcing people to move. The briefing argues that these include:
- Inequality. Over the long term, the most important driver of migration. With 62 people having more than half the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population, more people are being forced to flee poverty.
- War and conflict is raging all along Europe’s borders. People are dying and being forced to leave their homes. Countries in Europe have a degree of complicity in these conflicts through either their geo-politics or through the sales of weapons to the countries in conflict.
- Climate change. Increased drought, famine, flooding and natural disasters are already forcing people to move across borders.
The briefing goes beyond the well-documented evidence of the benefits that come from migration to pose the question, what would happen if we were to get rid of borders completely?
Alex Scrivener, the author of the briefing and policy officer from Global Justice Now said:
It’s unacceptable that people from rich countries are free to go almost anywhere in the world while people from the global south are denied freedom of movement, even when they are fleeing war and extreme poverty. A right that only exists for the rich is not a right at all. There’s one rule for ‘expat’ Europeans and North Americans and another for the rest of the world. This is apartheid on a global scale. We need to move towards free movement for everyone.
The briefing was published following a day of action against detention centres across Europe. While the briefing argues that fighting global inequality, climate change and unfair trade regimes is essential in dealing with the root causes of forced migration, it also names a number of specific measures that should be made as soon as possible, including ending the arms trade, ending immigration detention, joining and expanding the Schengen zone and having an amnesty on undocumented migrants.
Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now said:
What we call a ‘migrant crisis’, is actually a crisis of global injustice caused by war, poverty and inequality. To demonise those making a rational choice on the part of themselves, their family and their community, obscures the truth. Migration is bringing those of us in Europe face to face with the reality of the brutal and unjust world our leaders have constructed.
We cannot build a decent society on fear and hatred. We are told that the principles of free movement, solidarity between members and respect of human rights are at the foundation of the EU. But the value of these principles are dramatically undermined if they are only extended to a privileged minority who arbitrarily hold a particular passport.
In April Global Justice Now projected ‘Refugees Welcome’ in giant letters on the white cliffs of Dover ahead of a far right march that was to take place in the town centre.
Illustration by Jacob V Joyce