LONDON, United Kingdom – The flood of refugees from the Islamic world into Europe has hit 'unprecedented proportions' according to the European Union. The 28-strong bloc has taken little action to quell the crisis so far, despite it causing Germany's population to increase by one percent this year alone.
The increasing number of people who have died travelling from conflict-hit countries to Europe by land and at sea has forced governments to respond. Many are forced to risk their lives and pay huge fees by people traffickers.
Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said the attendance at some Mosques in the country has doubled in the past month alone. Leading to fears Germany will be unable to cope unless something can be done to stop more migrants crossing into the country.
Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said: "Never before in history have so many people fled their homes to escape war, violence and persecution… And given the large number of unresolved conflicts in our neighborhood, the stream of refugees seeking protection in Europe will not abate in the foreseeable future."
In response the holder of the European Union's Presidency, Luxembourg, has called an emergency meeting in two weeks time to look at how to deal with the crisis. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn is suggesting a scheme under which EU countries will be given a mandatory quota of refugees.The scheme is seen by the left as a better way to deal with the crisis than patrolling the border properly. Under EU law the UK, Ireland and Denmark are exempt from the plan.
Mr Hahn said: "We're going to have a quota settlement approach, and in light of recent developments, I believe all 28 member states are now ready to accept and approve that.” He continued: "There are 20 million refugees waiting at the doorstep of Europe… Ten to 12 million in Syria, 5 million Palestinians, 2 million Ukrainians and about 1 million in the southern Caucasus.”
Despite the EU's enthusiasm for taking refugees, not everyone is convinced by the plan. Viktor Orbán, President of Hungary, recently said: "For us today, what is at stake is Europe, the lifestyle of European citizens, European values, the survival or disappearance of European nations, and more precisely formulated, their transformation beyond recognition.
“Today, the question is not merely in what kind of a Europe we would like to live, but whether everything we understand as Europe will exist at all."
Australia had a similar problem with people traffickers but dealt with it by helping boats full of refugees sail to uninhabited islands. This was initially denounced as callous by the political left, but it has made sailing to the country pointless and as a result the numbers attempting the trip has fallen sharply. This in turn has bankrupted the criminal gangs who controlled the people trafficking business.
Under the Schengen Agreement most European Union countries have no borders at all, this means refugees who enter Italy will not be stopped until they get to the UK border with France. A number of countries want to suspend or abolish this system. The UK and Ireland refused to join it in the first place, which is why so many migrants are massed of their border.