Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions


`Start by reading this article and discuss in your journal how current official definitions of "migrants", "refugees" and "asylum seekers" are challenged by the on-going migration crisis at the South-East borders of Europe.

You can also see Unit 2.1 for more information about irregular migration in Mediterranean region, Unit 2.2 about EU norms on asylum seeking, and Unit 2.3 on the case of Syrian refugees.

Don't forget to have a look to what others have done in their journals!

Multidimensional reasons for dangerous journeys to Europe


The article provides a good overview on the various problems associated with the existing terminology of how we define "migrants, refugees and asylum seekers":

  • The terminology was developed more than 50 years ago (1951 Refugee Convention) and does not reflect socio-economic conditions today. The world today is shaped by many different globalization effects that do have an impact on the reasons to leave countries (e.g. climate change induced migration).
  • The existing distinction between refugees (they have to leave to save their lives) and migrants (they choose to leave to improve the future prospects of themselves) is very vague as someone who has nothing to eat and feed their family has to leave to save their lives as in the case of climate change impacts. However, under the Refugee Convention they are not defined as refugee and therefore not entitled international protection.
  • The question at the forefront is: Who should receive protection and why? leading to a clear statement on the objectives to protect people from which in turn terminology can be deduced to reach the defined objectives.

While a common terminology is only the starting point, clearly the European Union and the international community has to develop not only a harmonized system but an approach that covers the multidimensional reasons for dangerous journeys, human trafficking and smugglers and is able to save peoples lives - not only at European borders but also where we do not see it. It is not said that the task is easy. Not to mention that terminology and a harmonized system is one thing while actual implementation and execution another. But global crises need global and united responses. And we should start sooner than later with this difficult task.

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