Contemporary Refugee Issues in the EU and the Crises of Multiculturalism

In reporting on the conflict in Syria, the media has concentrated on the refugee crisis as a key facet of the larger narrative. While the geopolitical ramifications of the conflict are pored over by political leaders, the more human consequences of this vast exodus of refugees have raised questions over the responsibility of the international community toward the millions who are fleeing. So far, it has fallen to Syria’s immediate neighbors to bear the brunt of the exodus, with EU countries accepting relatively few. This has led to a discrepancy between a predominantly European call to help Syria’s refugees - and how welcoming Europe is in practice. Added into the mix is the rise of anti-immigration sentiment in many European countries, where problems with the integration of immigrants is perhaps fuelling a reluctance to accept refugees. European governments are making public statements to their citizens about the rise of Islamism in Europe; the kind of anti-immigration protests seen in Germany over the last few months show how difficult it is for governments to square their humanitarian responsibilities with public doubts over the value of multiculturalism in their societies. This commentary enquires whether there is a degree of hypocrisy in the EU, given the gap between its professed concern for those fleeing violence and the help it actually offers, and asks whether this is likely to change

Authors: Brendan Cole
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