Drownings Focus Europe's Migration Crisis In Brutal Relief

03/09/2015 5:40 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Migrants discuss with riot police officers in front of the Keleti (East) railway station in Budapest on September 2, 2015. Hungarian authorities face mounting anger from thousands of migrants who are unable to board trains to western European countries after the main Budapest station was closed. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

SYDNEY -- Images beamed around the world of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach has brought the horror of Europe’s migrant crisis into brutal relief.

Europe is undergoing its worst migrant crisis since World War II, with more than 350,000 people in the past year fleeing the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.


A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a child near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015.

The International Rescue Committee say most have fled from the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year.

So far this year, 2,500 people have lost their lives trying to get to Europe by sea.

Out of the 351,314 who arrived by sea in 2015, 234,778 alone were in Greece.

The huge migration numbers have sparked a series of flash points at European Borders as nations respond in different ways.

  • As many as 13,000 refugees are waiting on the Greek Holiday Island of Lesbos for travel documents and transportation to mainland Europe. Saturday's arrival of an estimated 4,000 refugees on Lesbos has overwhelmed the collective response effort on the island, says the International Rescue Committee. Similar numbers are expected every day in the week ahead.
  • Berlin said it expects to receive a record 800,000 asylum seekers in 2015, more than the entire EU combined in 2014. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also suggested passport-free travel across mainland Europe under the Schengen zone cannot continue in its current form and that the EU may have to bring back border controls.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing mounting pressure both at home and abroad to accept thousands of refugees and not hundreds of refugees. Mr Cameron says taking more people is not the answer and he argues for bringing peace and stability to places where migrants are fleeing.
  • A two-day standoff in Budapest ended on Thursday when authorities opened the doors of Keleti station, allowing thousands of migrants to try and board trains. However Hungary's rail operator says there are no direct trains to Europe.
  • Eurostar passangers were left stranded for hours on Tuesday night when their London bound train from Calais, France, was halted at the Channel Tunnel by asylum seekers thought to have climbed into the roof of the train.

  • Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has vowed complete a 175km long, 4 metre high fence along its border with Serbia by the end of 2015. In mid-August they said they would deploy police to the border as "border hunters".

  • Bulgaria announced plans for a fence earlier this year to span 100 miles along its southern border with Turkey. However Reuters notes that migrants and refugees continue to enter the country at an unprecedented rate. The fence will come complete with infrared cameras, motion detectors, and army patrols
  • On Monday Austria began inspecting vehicles after 71 migrants were found dead in an unventilated food truck near Vienna.
  • Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday said the US’s record in taking refugees from Syria “does not amount to leadership.” The US has taken 1234 Syrian refugees. The State Department announced last week a target of 5,000-8,000 in 2016. "That's way below the kind of leadership needed for America to play its historic role, never mind to compare to this German reaction of 800,000 refugees, Mr Miliband said.


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