Managing Migration: Europe and the Refugee Crisis

The panel “Managing Migration: Europe and the Refugee Crisis”, discussed the future of refugees in Europe.

The keynote speaker Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, argued that the situation of migrant boats in the Mediterranean Sea is a huge threat to humanitarian action. He spoke about what he called the “criminalisation of humanitarian aid”—a policy adopted by some European countries, such as Italy, to refuse migrant boats harbour—and deemed it wrong because it goes against humanitarian values and European norms. Furthermore, he argued the rejection of migrants in Europe is fuelled by a narrative of invasion and fear created by political leaders and the media.

Regarding the migrant detention facilities in Libya, Rocca expressed that the EU has abandoned all of its Mediterranean patrolling operations, and decided to send migrants to unsafe “torture camps” in Libya. He called the situation in those camps an outrage to the conscience of humanity. Rocca argued that European countries have collectively failed to develop policies to effectively deal with the causes of migration or to work jointly in persuading their communities about the acceptance of the migrants and the humanitarian actors helping those at risk.

President Francesco Rocca elaborated on Turkey’s crucial role in mitigating the extent of the migrant crisis by hosting around four million Syrian refugees. He highlighted his view that the EU-Turkey migrant deal was not fair because Turkey was left with the burden of millions of refugees with inadequate support from the EU.

On finding a solution, Rocca recommended developing a new way of burden-sharing among European countries, to support migrants in their own countries by addressing factors that force them to leave in the first place. Rocca emphasised that world leaders should “rediscover” their missing moral duties to restore humanity in politics.