‘They Are Not Going to Like it Here’ and Other European Excuses to Avoid Refugees
A recap of excuses made by European leaders for why their countries cannot handle the migration crisis.
As France's top diplomat sees it, allowing refugees who have been displaced by Mideast wars into Europe marks a victory for Islamic State militants.
As France’s top diplomat sees it, allowing refugees who have been displaced by Mideast wars into Europe marks a victory for Islamic State militants.
“It’s very difficult, but if all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Daesh has won the game,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RTL radio Tuesday. He was using an alternative name for the Islamic State.
The timing of the Fabius excuse for being reluctant to offer protection to Syrian and Iraqi refugees is not ideal. It came just one day after France agreed to accept some 24,000 asylum-seekers — in comparison to the estimated 800,000 Germany expects to receive this year — and adds to the growing list of hedges from European leaders on why refugees would be better off somewhere, anywhere, other than their European countries.
As a handy clip ‘n save reference, Foreign Policy has compiled a list of some of the most noteworthy below:
Slovakia: Slovak Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Netik announced his country would accept a small number of Syrian refugees — so long as they’re Christian. He said Slovakia would not take in Muslims because they would not be happy in a country with no mosques.
“We could take 800 Muslims, but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?” he told the BBC.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico later reiterated that point in an argument against quotas suggested by the European Union.
“Migrants arriving in Europe do not want to stay in Slovakia,” he said. “They don’t have a base for their religion here; their relatives, they would run away anyway. Therefore I think the quotas are irrational.”
Hungary: When thousands of asylum-seekers crowded Budapest’s Keleti train station in an attempt to get to Germany, government officials rejected calls to find a more permanent Hungarian solution to their needs. Their reasoning? None of the asylum-seekers wanted to stay in Hungary anyway. “Nobody would like to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia, nor Poland, nor Estonia,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “All of them would like to go to Germany.”
Denmark: Looking to stop asylum-seekers from trekking to Europe before they even begin, Danish authorities placed advertisements in Lebanese newspapers that described tightened protocols and reduced social benefits in Denmark.
Inger Stojberg, the immigration and integration minister, posted on Facebook that Denmark could not handle the growing number of migrants and “there is good reason for us to tighten rules and get that effectively communicated.”
United Kingdom: British Prime Minister David Cameron, who once referred to migrants and asylum-seekers as “a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean,” has tried to mitigate the arrival of refugees by instead redirecting resources to underfunded refugee camps in the Middle East. Although the U.K. has now agreed to accept 20,000 refugees, Cameron is under internal scrutiny for not doing more to aid those who have already traveled across the Mediterranean and need a new final destination in Europe.
“We have taken a number of genuine asylum-seekers from Syrian refugee camps and we keep that under review,” he said. “But we think the most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world.”
The U.K. has promised more than $1 billion to the crisis in the Middle East, but British politicians have repeatedly come under fire for what U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Peter Sutherland called “xenophobic” and “grossly excessive” comments regarding the migrants.
France: When French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced Paris’s intention to build a holding camp in Calais, where large numbers of migrants and refugees are sleeping in makeshift tents near the entrance to the British Channel, he was accused of sacrificing the town. Marine le Pen, head of the right-wing National Front, called the town a “jungle” and urged Valls to reconsider the plan so that Calais could once again be “a territory of the Republic where order reigns.”
Image Credit: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Siobhán O'Grady was a staff writer at Foreign Policy from 2015-2016 and was previously an editorial fellow.
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