President-elect, Donald Trump, in his first UK interview, with Justice Secretary Michael Gove for the Times, expressed his opinion on the impact of refugees in Europe.
Mr Trump explained that, is his opinion, if the UK ‘hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees then you wouldn’t have a Brexit.’
Trump also stated that Mrs Merkel had made a ‘big mistake’ by admitting more than one million refugees into Germany. Trump referred to the refugees that Germany has granted asylum to as ‘illegals’. He added: ‘nobody even knows where they come from’.
Unfortunately, Trump makes the mistake of conflating refugees and migrants, which is symptomatic of a problem whereby refugees – those who are fleeing persecution or indiscriminate violence – are not treated with the compassion and fairness under the law, and in society, that they are owed.
The refugee crisis that is being witnessed in Europe currently is predominantly made up of individuals fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq. Whilst the EU has seen an increase in the numbers of first time asylum applicants across the region, the individuals predominantly come from areas which have seen high-levels of indiscriminate violence. Syria accounted for almost one third of all first-time applicants in 2015, followed by Afghanistan, and then Iraq.
All three of these countries have remained within the five-worst impacted countries for explosive violence in the last five years, let alone other forms of violence and persecution.
The violent atrocities taking place in Syria are well-known and documented, as are those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite this, many politicians and the media alike continue to vilify refugees, many of whom have seen the situation in their home country impacted by the poor decisions and influence of Western powers.
Whilst their homes have been destroyed and their home countries are unsafe they seek refuge in Europe until they can return to their homes and continue with their lives in their home countries.
Trump also mistakenly paints the picture that the UK has been ‘forced to take in all of the refugees’. This is a thorough misrepresentation of the amount or refugees the UK has received asylum applications from and the offers of asylum it has granted.
If we look at the number of asylum applications per 100,000 of the local population from 2015 data, the most recent whole year set, the UK ranks well below the EU average with 60 applications per 100,000. The EU average is 260, whilst Germany’s was 587, and Hungary’s was 1,799.
When comparing the amount of asylum applications granted, the UK still took less than many of our EU counterparts. Whilst Germany granted 140,910, and Sweden took in 32,215, the UK granted asylum to 13,905.
As to being ‘forced’ to take asylum seekers, the UK opted out of the EU quotas to relocate those in Greece and Italy.
It is also important to remember that most Syrian refugees are registered outside of Europe, including 2.8million in Turkey, 1million in Lebanon, 655,000 in Jordan and others throughout the Middle East.
AOAV records deaths and injuries from explosive violence globally from English-language media. Whilst reporting from Syria has been inconsistent given the danger posed to journalists, AOAV has found that of the deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Syria over the last five year (2012-2016), 86% (43,674) were civilians.
Further, 73% of explosive violence incidents have occurred in populated areas, leaving Syrian civilians highly vulnerable to its lethal impact. On average, when explosive violence was used in a populated area, over 95% of the dead and injured were civilians.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.