In 2015, an unprecedented number of people from Africa and the Near East took flight and sought refuge in Europe. By the end of that year, some 1.8 million migrants had arrived in the EU, the vast majority having come across the Mediterranean. Since then, despite measures to host some of the people fleeing the Syrian war in Turkey and concurrent attempts to physically seal off some borders in Eastern Europe, the numbers of refugees traveling to Europe has continued to top half a million annually. A mass migration on a scale not witnessed in modern times is underway, and it has presented Europe with its greatest challenge of the twenty-first century.
Asfa-Wossen Asserate argues here that building higher fences or finding more effective methods of integration will only, in the long term, perpetuate rather than solve the problems associated with these large numbers of displaced refugees. We need to realize that we are only treating the symptoms of an oncoming catastrophe and that, if we are to respond to mass migration, we will ultimately have to understand its causes. The New Mass Migration places its emphasis firmly on the causes of the refugee crisis, which are to be found not least in Europe itself, and charts ways in which we might deal with it effectively in the long term.
In the course of this analysis, Asserate asks why our view of Africa—a troubled continent, but rich in so many ways—is so distorted. How can we combat the corrupt, authoritarian regimes that stymie progress and development? Why are millions fleeing to Europe? How is the EU complicit in the migration crisis? And finally, in practical terms: what can be done, and what prospects does the future hold?