The EU refugee crisis: road to betterment

A father cradling his sick child waits in the rain to board a bus to a police pre-registration centre in Hungary. © UNHCR/M.Henley

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Pragya  Maharjan is a 4th year medical student studying in Bangladesh and is a member of BMSS. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In 2015, Europe experienced an increased movement of refugees and migrants, and about 1.3 million people entered the EU requesting asylum, a period known as the European migrant crisis. The International Organization for Migration has described 2021 as the deadliest for migration routes to and within Europe since 2018.  Many migrants try to reach the EU to escape from war, natural disasters, poverty, and political oppression. Some use legal ways, others risk their lives at sea, many die in the journey.

The migrants present a complex, demanding situation for the volumes of the people moving with different diversities, vulnerabilities and their dynamic nature of their routes of entry makes identifying those in need of international protection and those who are not, complex since for many of these people the line between ‘forced’ and ‘voluntary’ international migration is not clear. Also there lies a substantial financial cost to the countries receiving large scale migration.

As for children, young and women, there lies an uncertain future facing greater risks of ill treatment at the hands of smugglers and traffickers, imprisonments, with human rights violation including the homosexuals, aiding in jeopardized survival. Evidence shows that migrants are affected by unfavorable outcomes in terms of education, employment and access to basic services such as healthcare and decent housing. The effect on mental and physical health of the migrants is also a growing concern since the circumstances for migration favors for the range of communicable, non communicable diseases and mental health disorders.

To tackle all these challenges, at first there must be strong EU search and rescue teams at the sea to cover larger geographical areas to reach as many people as possible and have stronger integration policies. So far, UNHCR, and many other organizations in the EU have been providing a broad range of support in Europe for refugees and asylum seekers. Regarding health issues, there must be implementation of robust vaccination of refugees for the vaccine preventable diseases, provide them with mental health aids, and install efficient health camps, with good screening procedures, and early intervention strategies, since the entry of many people in a short period of time acts as a challenge for the health care system. Since 2016, the European Commission has been supporting EU Member States in their efforts to integrate migrants in their education and training systems, from early childhood education and care to higher education. Also, the decisions for the protection of all the migrants, especially children and women and other vulnerable groups must be done irrespective of the migrant status. In this digital era, social media platforms like YouTube or Twitter can play a huge role in voicing out the plights of the refugees, have more representation, spread awareness, and maybe open up doors for unification of the Parliaments, Ministries and EU institutions, UNICEF and other partners to deliver coordinated messages and policies, advocating human and child rights bringing major changes in their lives.

About the author

Pragya  Maharjan is currently a 4th year medical student studying in Bangladesh and is a member of BMSS. She is an avid learner and a reader with deep interest in psychology, spirituality, and writing. For her, writing is a way of expressing, connecting to people and knowing herself. She is enthusiastic about reforms in the education system and wants to contribute to the medical field as much as possible to bring about changes in the medical health care system.

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