European Countries Overwhelmed By Large Influx Of Refugees

| by Nicholas Roberts
Syrian refugees in ViennaSyrian refugees in Vienna

The failure to create and enforce a workable solution to the Europe's ongoing refugee crisis has left the continent in a situation in which European countries can no longer continue to accept new refugees.

"We see today that in the first three weeks of the year, there were 35,000 people crossing the (Aegean Sea to Greece) from Turkey," Mark Rutte, Holland's prime minister, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 21, according to USA Today.

"Last year, it was only 1,600 in the full month of January," he added. "When spring comes, the numbers will quadruple. We can't cope with these numbers any longer."

Despite being in the middle of winter, Greece still receives over 2,000 refugees a day, The Washington Post reports.

In the absence of unified action by members of the European Union, individual countries have been taking measures to curtail the entry of most new refugees. Security fears arising from the November 2015 Paris attacks and the New Year's Eve sexual attacks in Cologne, Germany -- in which asylum seekers from Syria are among the prime suspects -- have made Europeans wary of accepting new arrivals.

Individual actions by E.U. member countries are clearly not going to be enough to stem the crisis. The causes of the crisis -- namely, conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and various parts of Africa -- have not improved, and it's only understandable that people living in those nations would continue to flee as their living conditions deteriorate.

"When spring comes, the number of refugees coming out of Turkey and Lebanon and other countries through Greece and the Western Balkans and into the rest of European Union (will rise)," Rutte said, according to USA Today.

He added that the European Union has roughly six to eight weeks to get the situation under some semblance of control before the numbers of people entering the continent overwhelm individual nations' abilities to adequately control their borders. Such a situation would be incredibly dangerous for both the citizens of these countries and for the refugees themselves.

The immediate goal, as Rutte said that policymakers acknowledge, is for the E.U. to reach an agreement with Turkey in order to limit the number of people entering Europe from there. The E.U. has previously admitted that measures to ensure equitable distribution of refugees among host nations has not worked.

Ultimately, the European Union needs to get a grip on the situation very soon or the continent will be forever changed.

Sources: The Washington Post, USA Today / Photo Credit: Josh Zakary/Flickr, Kim Hjelmgaard/USA Today