Will Theodorou, JHU:
Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, the country’s citizens continue to seek asylum in Europe. The Syrian Refugee Crisis began in 2011 and, since then, approximately 4,183,535 Syrians have left their home in search of safety. Turkey has handled the biggest burden, hosting approximately half of the total refugees and acting as a launching pad for further migration in Europe. Sweden and Germany, via Greece and Italy, have become the “safe-haven” for asylum-seeking refugees, but these countries are beginning to feel the strain of such a large influx of state-dependent migrants.
This past week, Sweden introduced border checks in an effort to stem the flow of Syrian refugees entering the country. Border checks began on trains arriving in Sweden from Denmark and on ferries from Germany. The checks themselves are at the discretion of the police force present at the time of arrival. Minister of the Interior, Anders Ygeman, has been quoted as saying that the border checks are not to eliminate the asylum program, but rather they’re an attempt to establish “order and to obtain security and stability… not to limit the number of asylum seekers, but to get better control of the flow of asylum seekers to Sweden.” Whether that is true or not is yet to be seen, but regardless of the transparency of Sweden’s new border checks, the unequivocal truth is that Sweden is not able to maintain such a steady influx of refugees. Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Loven, alluded to this truth at the Malta summit stating, “this is not an issue for one or two or three countries – this is an issue for the whole European Union. We need another system; that is obvious.”
The introduction of border controls between Sweden and Denmark is symbolic of a European ideal in jeopardy. Upon the inception of the European Union a “passport-free” travel zone was introduced, linking countries with bridges and roadways. The need for checks along the Öresund Bridge is one of the first examples of an attack upon this ideal. The main parties of Swedish parliament are struggling to respond and adapt in light of the ongoing burden. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Swedish Migration Minister, Morgan Johansson, quantified Sweden’s response to the refugee crisis. They have taken in approximately 100,000 people, which amounts to one percent of their population, and the public is, as Johansson admitted, extremely “polarized” on the current administration’s policies. Public support has declined as the number of refugees begins to outnumber the housing options the government has for the immigrants. Johansson alluded to this in his admission: that soon, Sweden will have to resort to tents as shelter for the refugees.
The only solution to the refugee problem is a more concentrated effort from the entirety of the European Union. Two countries, Sweden and Germany, can no longer bear the burden of these migrants. To this end, Sweden has joined the controversial refugee relocation scheme that the European Union has put in place in an attempt to balance the migrant population across all member states. Although Sweden is known for having high standards in regards to dealing and supplying refugees, it is not she who needs to change. The countries surrounding her need to meet her standard, in an attempt to help the growing refugee population engulfing Sweden. Europe, and for that matter, nations all over the world have the moral obligation to provide sanctuary for the victims of a civil war that has decimated their homeland.