The much-anticipated agreement about Europe’s refugee crisis, announced September 9 by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, couldn’t have come sooner.
Some 160,000 refugees with asylum status will be relocated from Italy, Greece, and Hungary to other member states using a quota system based on the countries’ respective population sizes, GDPs, and unemployment rates. Overall, about 450,000 refugees have asked for European asylum according to the latest official data.
The plan is hardly impressive when compared to ongoing and past efforts to aid refugees by other countries. According to the UN Refugee Agency, in 2014 the vast majority of Syrian refugees, or 86 percent of them, were hosted in developing countries. The European effort is dwarfed by the numbers of migrants and refugees housed in Lebanon and Turkey:
Europe’s efforts are also muted by Syria’s recent history of housing migrants. Before the civil war started in 2011, Syria’s open-borders policy, followed by other countries in the region (Turkey and Lebanon), made it the destination of hundreds of thousands of refugees, primarily from Iraq. At the end of 2010, according to UNHCR, over 1,300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, of which 1 million were Iraqi, were housed in Syria—that’s over 6 percent of the country’s population at the time.