With over 340,000 refugees risking their lives this year to cross into Europe and find refuge from the ongoing war in Syria and the rising violence in neighboring regions, here’s a look at the major headlines that you need to know about how the world is meeting this humanitarian crisis.
UK MPs Debate Taking 20,000 Refugees but Critics Say It’s Not Enough
After Prime Minister David Cameron faced a severe backlash for his government’s refusal to take what critics claimed was a fair share of Syrian refugees, the government is now debating taking up to 20,000 refugees over the next five years, with priority given to small children.
This remains far below the capacity of the numbers the UK could actually support, at least in the short term, and critics say that while taking any refugees is better than none at all, this number is woefully damaging to the UK’s world standing as a leader on human rights. Conservative ministers have hit back that they are also looking at long term solutions to better help refugees.
France and New Zealand have also announced plans to take more refugees than they had initially decided upon.
German People Clap as Refugees Arrive
Around 10,000 refugees arrived at Munich station in Germany on Sunday and were met by hundreds of people who clapped and cheered in recognition of the journey the refugees had just taken. Volunteers delivered a large stockpile of food, clothing and toiletries, while many waved banners and balloons, and some sported placards saying welcome to the men and women who, after being denied care in Hungary due to its inability to cope with the influx of people, had made their way to Germany.
You can watch a video of this moment below:
Germany Says It Could Support an Additional 500,000 Refugees Every Year
Germany says that it expects to house over 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone, which is almost four times the number of people it took in in 2014. Even so, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is quoted by the BBC as saying that the country projects it could take in as many as 500,000 asylum seekers every year for the next few years and still sustain them. Even so, Germany is warning the rest of Europe, and in particular the more stable economic powers, that they must take their fair share of migrants and refugees, particularly given that Greece and Hungary, which had been popular destinations for refugees (due to trajectory and international rules governing refugee claims) are stretched so thin and now can largely only provide safe passage into the rest of Europe.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Again Delays Official Response to the Crisis
On September 6, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament that the Australian government would not rush to make commitments regarding refugees due to a need to be “prudent” and “careful.” The PM is said to be consulting with immigration authorities and ministers, and is in communication with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and after that is expected to make an announcement. Expectations are, however, that the government will increase the cap on migrants and look at a long term strategy, as well as increasing military aid in Syria itself.
Opposition leaders have called for a one-off increase of 10,000 Syrian refugees on top of the projected humanitarian intake in order to help. Australia is technically under no formal obligation to take in refugees in the same way that European nations might be expected to, but UN officials believe that it will take global cooperation to take care of the 4 million extra refugees and some 11 million people in total that have been displaced by the war on in Syria.
The White House Is Said to Be Considering Taking in More Syrian Refugees
“The administration is actively considering a range of approaches to be more responsive to the global refugee crisis, including with regard to refugee resettlement,” said Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
The change in direction on policy is thought to be at least partly down to the shocking images emerging from Europe and the Middle East of young children washing up on beaches after their families have attempted an incredibly desperate and dangerous ocean crossing.
The United States must publish its official refugee intake projections for the coming year by October 1. While no numbers have been settled yet, this suggests we will know relatively soon just how many refugees the US will attempt to help.
In Other Related News
Health officials are warning that countries must do more to meet the health needs of refugees and in particular to provide mental health support as upwards of 30 percent of refugees may have developed PTSD as a result of torture in their home countries or due to the stress of journeying to safety. This call comes as key UN agencies report that a global cut of more than 10 percent in refugee support systems is forcing agencies to the brink of collapse as they try to meet the needs of the refugees that are currently migrating, all the while facing the prospect of yet more pressure as the situation in Jordan and Lebanon becomes increasingly fraught.