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Issues Collide Over Europe’s Migrant Crisis

The sun rises as refugees and migrants walk to pass from the northern Greek village of Idomeni to southern Macedonia, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. The sudden onset of autumn has taken tens of thousands by surprise all along the Balkans route from Greece to Hun
Many Issues Meet on Europe’s Migrant Crisis
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Europe’s migrant crisis has brought the situation of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict or seeking a better life to the world’s attention.

The migration has put pressure on the border security of many nations. It has raised concerns in countries receiving refugees about religious differences. In addition, there are concerns that militants could use the refugee movements to enter other countries.

Europe seeks “compulsory” measures

On Wednesday, the European Parliament approved an emergency plan to relocate 40,000 refugees. Jean-Claude Juncker is the president of the European Commission. He said to the parliament, “We Europeans should never forget why giving refuge and complying with fundamental right of asylum is so important.”

The European Commission president called on EU member states to resettle 160,000 refugees. Mr. Juncker said the settlement of refugees and migrants in the 22 member states must be “compulsory.”

Migrant arrival points and camps
Migrant arrival points and camps

The current migrant crisis is the largest Europe has faced since World War Two. However, the idea of a quota for migrants is disputed. At a meeting Friday in Prague, the foreign ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia rejected the resettlement plan. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said, “We need to have control over how many [migrants] we are capable of accepting.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the crisis is "the biggest challenge for the EU in its history.” He called for a "fair distribution mechanism" for dealing with the additional migrants. Germany has received more asylum requests than any other European nation. The country expects up to 800,000 migrants to arrive this year.

Adding to tensions are religious differences between migrants and their possible hosts. Two French mayors said that their towns would only accept Christians and not Muslim migrants.

This week, French and United Nations leaders condemned those statements. France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on French national television that Christians, Muslims and other minorities were being persecuted in Syria.

Meanwhile, no Syrian refugees have been officially resettled in Persian Gulf states such as Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Rulers in these states have been criticized for not doing more to help the migrants.

The U.S. response to migrant crisis

The United States said on Thursday that it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year. A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had directed officials to let the refugees into the country starting in October.

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said there were also concerns that Islamic State militants, known as ISIS or ISIL, could enter countries along with migrants.

He said, "I don't obviously put it past the likes of ISIL (the Islamic State insurgents) to infiltrate operatives among these refugees. So that is a huge concern of ours.”

He added that he believes measures are in place to avoid that happening in the U.S. But he is not certain that is the case for each of the European countries faced with welcoming or permitting refugees into their country.

I’m Mario Ritter.

William Gallo, Jamie Dettmer, and Ken Bredemeier reported this story. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

relocate – v. to move to a new place

comply v. to do what has been asked or ordered

fundamentaladj. relating to the most important or basic part of something

compulsory adj. required by a rule or law

quota n. an official limit on the number or amount of people or things that are allowed

persecuted adj. to treat a person or people unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs