Refugee crisis in Europe

migration crisis

Migration is an increasingly controversial topic within the European social and political space. This is particularly true since the beginning of 2015, when an influx of migrants led to a surge in the popularity of radical right parties in many countries.

The Einaudi Center and the Cornell Institute for European Studies (CIES) launched a migration initiative in the fall of 2015 that seeks to connect these issues and address the question of how European societies, and Europe as a whole, are addressing the opportunities and challenges that accompany their increasing diversity.  

Past events

Amara Lakhous, 2014-15 Luigi Einaudi Chair in European and International Studies, delivered a Messenger Lecture on October 22, 2015, in Kaufman Auditorium addressing the question "Why is Europe Failing at the Issue of Immigration?" Lakhous argued that immigration, particularly from the Muslim world, has become a “bargaining chip” in politics and the media. “If the immigrant is a ‘bargaining chip,’ it’s not hard to enlarge the metaphor by saying that politicians and journalists are merchants, and citizens are simply customers,” he said. 

Mostafa Minawi, assistant professor of history and director of CIES' Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative (OTSI), delivered a presentation at the Cornell Trustee-Council Annual Meeting (TCAM) in October 2015. “We have 60 million people on the move," he said. "It’s the population of Italy or more than the population of the Roman Empire at its highest that has been displaced. We need to start thinking of it in a different way. It is not a refugee crisis but a global population redistribution.”

Minawi was joined by Satchit Balsari, assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Laura Spitz, vice provost for international affairs, in introducing the conference "Beyond Survival: Livelihood Strategies for Refugees in the Middle East" on November 6-8, 2015. The meeting was cohosted by the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, Cornell University Law School, Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division, and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative.

On November 18, 2015, Greek journalist John Psaropoulos delivered a lecture titled “Open Door or Fortress? Greek and European Responses to the Refugee Crisis.” Combining anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and facts, Psaropoulos discussed the validity and sustainability of the Greek and European responses to the refugee crisis. The lecture was hosted by the Einaudi Center and the Cornell Institute for European Studies as a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. Click here to watch the video.

On March 14, 2016, Turkish and European Union parliamentarian Safak Pavey delivered a lecture titled "Humanitarian Disasters and the Refugee Crisis: Turkey-European Struggles for European Consensus." She argued that the solution to the present crisis lay in investing in peace and security, development, and human rights. The video is available here

A roundtable discussion entitled "Syria and the Middle East: Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Asylum Seekers in Long-term Global Crises" was held on March 22, 2016. It featured Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, former UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General; Chantal Thomas, professor of law at Cornell Law School and director of the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa; Alex Aleinikoff, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and visiting professor of law at Columbia University; and Lisel Hintz, postdoctoral fellow at the Einaudi Center. The event highlighted the challenges relating to protracted conflict and displacement, focusing on Syria and the Middle East. Click here to watch the video of the discussion. 

On May 2, 2016, Andreas Wüst delivered a lecture entitled, “Integration of Refugees in Germany: The Refugee Crisis and Beyond.” Dr. Wüst is the head of the refugee integration unit in the Ministry of Integration in the German state of Baden–Württemberg. He discussed the legislation, policy and politics behind the crisis, the Dublin Agreement, the role of Germany and chancellor Merkel, and the practical challenges of integration. This lecture was also a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series.