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Europe’s Refugee Amnesia

In just the first few months of 2015, more than 38,000 people have attempted to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, and some 1,800 people have died as a result – more than twice the number of such deaths in all of 2013. Most are refugees entitled to request asylum, which makes the EU's inaction unacceptable.

BARCELONA – After World War I, when millions of European civilians were made refugees, forced out of their homelands by enemy occupation or deportation, an international regime was developed to coordinate effective responses and ease the suffering of those who had been uprooted. A century later, another refugee crisis is underway, and this time, it is Europe that has the power to provide safe haven to desperate people. Yet it has not risen to the occasion, with many of its responses failing to match the urgency of the situation.

In just the first few months of 2015, more than 38,000 people have attempted to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa. Some 1,800 people have died as a result – more than twice the number of such deaths in all of 2013.

Disappointingly, many Europeans have responded to this humanitarian crisis, which closely resembles the one that Europe endured a century ago, by opposing their countries’ acceptance of any more refugees. How quickly we forget our past.

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