European Migrant Crisis; Fences Don’t Fix Problems

[Opinion] As Slovenia announced its plans to begin erecting barriers to control migrants, it joined Hungary in the increasing number of European states that seem to believe that wire fencing fixes the migrant crisis.

Slovenia’s government recently announced plans to begin with immediate effect the construction of barriers along its border with Croatia to help control the flow of migrants into country.

The European migrant crisis, currently ongoing in 2015, has saw mass movement of migrants across the continent, and the opinions on the appropriate manner in which the response to the situation have been varied.

One of these approaches has been seen first with Hungary, and now with Slovenia. Their solution; build a large wall of wire fencing along their borders.

As some of the earliest countries within the European Union, and the highly desirable Schengen Area, that migrants enter on route to the rest of Europe these countries have seen huge volumes of migrants travelling through them – taking advantage of the relaxation of EU laws that state migrants must register in the first nation they reach.

Instead, these countries – such as Hungary and Slovenia – are becoming corridors as the migrants travel to more welcoming and lucrative nations in northern Europe, such as Germany and the Scandinavian nations.

Now, it must be understood the differences in objective of the fencing in Hungary and Slovenia.

In Hungary, the aim of the wire fences – which are built along almost the entirety of the country’s southern borders with Croatia and Serbia – is to prevent the flow of illegal migration into their country. Under the premise of protecting Hungarian border security, the high wire fencing forces migrants wishing to enter the country to use official border checkpoints and claim asylum in the country, based on international and European migration laws.

The barbed wire fencing, and frequent border patrols, also helps to combat the popular land migration route that was bringing hundreds of thousands of migrants through the country, with no intention of settling in the country – instead continuing on to Austria and Germany.

This migration led to dissent towards the migrants from some Hungarians, as well as protests against their presence in the country. Migrants were detained at border camps – leading to situations such as the riots and breakout at Horgos migrant camp – and there was the now infamous incident of Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlo tripping fleeing migrants.

In Slovenia, however, the erection of these sections of wire fencing, along the country’s border with Croatia do not purportedly have the same objective as Hungary.

The Slovenian government has stated that it does not wish to use the fences as a blockade to act against the migrant flow to the country, but rather to control their movements through official and observed routes.

“The barriers do not have the purpose of preventing arrivals to Slovenia or significantly reducing them… Their purpose is to direct the flow of migrants to controlled entrance points,” Bostjan Sefic, state secretary at the Slovenian Interior Ministry, told a news conference.

Sefic said that a total of 1.5 km (0.9 mile) of fence had so far been erected along two locations on the border but declined to reveal how many more kilometers would be fenced off.

The argument therefore stands that the fence-building policies of Slovenia and Hungary are not comparable because of the different agendas that they aim to achieve.

Nevertheless, it appears that the only responses the ongoing migrant crisis being taken into consideration by European governments, other than arguing incessantly over national quotas, is to build structures designed to communicate a clear deterrent by these nations against the influx of migrants.

Yet, there seems no greater effect of the construction of these border fences then to act as a vast, blunt metaphor for the European response to ongoing humanitarian disaster that it is faced with.

The common approach, as a border country at the forefront of these migration routes into Europe, it seems is simply to build a fence around the border of the country, thereby pushing the popular route until that point away from those borders, and to a neighbouring country.

Now that the migrants are not travelling through that border country the migrant issue does not have as much direct importance to the people and government of the nation, so it is ignored until the situation arises again – likely because the neighbouring country has built a bigger fence or the original one has either fallen into disrepair or been bypassed.

Meanwhile, the country’s beyond these border nations actively criticise the building of these fences and barriers, while being privately thankful for the reduced number of migrants that they are receiving. Instead, these nations continue to meet at international conferences, discussing possible plans with no real urgency.

All the while, the only party that truly loses out and suffers is the migrants – those fleeing from poverty, persecution and misfortune in their own countries. The whole situation just creates a worrying image of international buck-passing, as blame for the situation is shifted from one nation to the other while nobody actually attempts to solve the issues that the blame is stemming from.

As such, the building of these fences just seems a backwards system of blatant buck-passing from country to country, all while the migrant crisis continues to spiral out of control.



Categories: Opinion

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