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What is the 'refugee crisis'?

The European 'refugee crisis' is the phrase used to refer to the millions of people who have arrived on European soil since 2015, fleeing violence and persecution. The last 5 years have seen the largest numbers of forcibly displaced people since World War 2, and in 2015 alone, more than 1 million people reached Europe via sea routes. 

Ever since, refugees arriving in Europe have been forced to live in inhumane, unhygeinic and unsafe conditions, whilst they apply for asylum and await a decision on their application. Many refugees live in makeshift open-air 'camps', or even detention centres, in Greece and other countries, whilst others are homeless, sleeping in parks or cities. 

Forcible displacement is not a new phenomenon; people have migrated throughout centuries and across all continents in recent history. However, Europe as a whole was unprepared for the numbers of people seeking asylum, and have failed to respond appropriately ever since. The 'refugee crisis' has been characterised over the past 5 years by profound mismanagement, with EU leaders seeking to control the movement of those seeking safety, and deter new arrivals, as opposed to prioritising the safety and human rights of those who have fled immense danger. 

Why do we use inverted commas?

We use the phrase ' refugee crisis' in inverted commas because the phrase is often used within mainstream media and politics to imply that the 'crisis' is one of too many people arriving in Europe. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. Under international law, everyone has a fundamental right to seek asylum in a country they feel is safe for them, and were Europe to come together in support of refugee rights, it would absolutely be financially and practically possible to support those seeking safety.


There are very real crises happening around the world; civil war, humanitarian crises, political oppression, homphobia and racism to name a few, which force people to flee their homes in order to escape violence and persecution. There is also a profound crisis when one considers the conditions refugees and asylum seekers are forced to live in when they reach Europe, having made deadly journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, and being provided with no suitable accommodation, medical care, or legal aid. But these are not the crises being referred to when the phrase 'refugee crisis' is used.


We reject the notion that there is anything negotiable about coming together to support those who have lost their homes, livelihood, and often, family members, and we are striving to unite our international community in support of sustainable solutions to the injustices being perpetuated across Europe and beyond. 

To learn more, swipe through the timelines below, or head to our other online resources:

The European Refugee Crisis

2015 saw the largest refugee crisis on European soil since WWII. The mass influx of refugees has seen divided global politics, with outpourings of generosity and controversy towards refugees. This timeline shows just how the crisis has been shaped since 2015.