Examining European Responses to the Refugee Crisis

With so much in the news about global refugees (see our classroom resource), students have probably already explored their own opinions regarding the plight of these refugees. In class, students can examine resources emerging from both sides of the European debate on whether to welcome or reject the surging numbers of people looking for relief from war-torn countries. After considering this information, and bringing to bear their own personal knowledge and views regarding refugees and immigration, students may participate in a debate in order to flesh out ideas about the issue. The following two resources will help students frame different views on the refugee crisis.

This engaging video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvOnXh3NN9w, created by a German information design organization, promotes a clear policy agenda. It calls for welcoming and incorporating Syrian refugees into Europe and other developed countries. It aims to counter arguments made by those looking to reject the entry of so many refugees by pointing out that the total number of Syrian refugees would makeup an extremely small percentage of the European Union population, and therefore have limited demographic, social, economic, and religious impact. Germany has declared that it will accept hundreds of thousands of refugees, and this position, as well as its strong economy, makes it a preferred destination for the bulk of refugees coming to Europe.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken a strong stance on denying entry to refugees. His country sees a very high number of the Syrian refugees as they head north into Europe. Orban sees them as a threat to the religious and social order of Europe, and fears that they will not assimilate into their adopted culture. This article comes from a Hungary newspaper and covers a recent interview with Orban where he outlines his objection to accepting refugees: http://hungarytoday.hu/news/immigration-crisis-hungary-protecting-way-life-migrants-seeking-german-living-standards-pm-orban-insists-35279.

These opposing perspectives give students insight into how Europeans perceive the refugee crisis, and allow students to analyze the conditions that might lead to such differing opinions. Conducting additional research into the economies, demographics, and other data about Germany and Hungary may deepen students’ understanding of what factors tend to make a country more or less welcoming to refugees.