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The tanker “Foscari” arrives in port carrying 562 immigrants, Naples, Italy, May 6, 2015 (Photo by Alessio Paduano/NurPhoto, Sipa via AP Images).

Not the Usual Suspects: No Easy Answers for EU Migrant Crisis

Friday, May 15, 2015

The recent spike in the numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe’s Mediterranean shores, accompanied by media images of fatal capsizings and other tragic scenes of human suffering, has reminded people of the moral as well as the humanitarian and political dimensions of the issue. This week, in response to months of urgent appeals, the European Union drafted recommendations for a quota system to distribute asylum-seekers and other migrants across the EU, to relieve some of the burden on the southern European states of Italy, Malta and Greece. But the debate over these migrants remains divisive and passionate.

World media and public opinion have found fault with European states that are struggling to cope with maritime humanitarian disasters and influxes of new migrants. The general tone of media coverage, as well as that of public intellectuals and opinion shapers, is that those who have risked so much to make a new life in Europe should be treated with generosity as their cases for asylum or immigration are adjudicated. The idea of instead returning them to their country of origin, or detaining them in poorly serviced facilities, is often portrayed as being inconsistent with the EU’s enlightened principles and its commitment to universal values of human rights and human dignity. ...

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