Europe's Great Humanitarian Crisis - OZY | A Modern Media Company
A Syrian family of asylum seekers await in the city of Mersin, on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, for a boat that will smuggle them to Europe. January 24, 2015
SourceAlice Martins


Because this could be one of the largest humanitarian crises of the century.

By OZY Editors

The cruelest month has also featured one of the century’s largest humanitarian crises: More than 800 migrants, mostly African men, died after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean on April 17. Separately, hundreds of thousands of refugees, from everywhere from Syria to South Sudan, are pouring over Europe’s borders and its nations are scrambling to handle the influx. The EU’s recent emergency meeting tripled the budget for border protection, but many say it’s still sorely inadequate. From a small-town German mayor rolling out the welcome mat for immigrants to an up-close profile of one of the region’s most prolific human traffickers, OZY gives you the run-down of one of world’s most pressing issues.

The Human Trafficker

Who are the people who helped some 170,000 migrants cross the Mediterranean to Italy in 2014 — 3,500 of whom drowned or froze to death in transit? Men like Abu Ahmad, 35, a former doctor from Syria. For $5,000, desperate migrants and refugees can buy a place in an overcrowded and filthy boat that is put on autopilot and steered toward Italy. Now, Ahmad (not his real name) is based in Side, a Turkish resort town, where his trafficking gig earns him up to $1,400 per refugee. Which he uses to “support [his] family in Syria.” Read more here.

Give Oliver Junk Your Refugees!

While most of Europe is becoming increasingly unfriendly toward immigrants, Oliver Junk, 39-year-old mayor of German mountain town Goslar, is asking nearby cities to bring ’em on. And he’s standing his ground on the unpopular policy. Goslar has more than its share of vacant apartments and small hotels, and it faces an aging population and sinking wages. So Junk announced at a recent event that he is asking German authorities to ship in more immigrants who enter Germany from North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe — at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is spreading like wildfire in Germany. Read more here.

The Mediterranean Graveyard

Every year tens of thousands of people leave poor, war-torn countries to seek better fortunes in Europe. Many risk dangerous sea voyages for the chance to improve their lives, but a huge percentage die as a result. Between 2000 and 2013, an estimated 23,000 men, women and children died trying to reach the continent — and in 2014, the number doubled. Most were drowning victims. That number of fatalities is horrific enough, but what’s even worse is that their bodies are often not recovered, their deaths go undocumented, and their families are never notified. Read more here.

A Finnish Lawyer Solves World Immigration?

Though hardly in any headlines, international lawyer Anu Bradford, herself a recent immigrant to the U.S. from Finland, is being sought by labor union leaders and U.N. immigration envoys. Why? They’re keen to turn her ideas about immigration into action. Their motivation, of course, is trying to finally align the diverse interests countries have always had in dealing with — or not dealing with — the world’s 230 million migrants. Those ideas? Stopping talent and brain drain and tackling immigration welfare and societal costs. Bradford has a flexible system for covering the cost on both ends. Read more here. 

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