On Monday, April 10th Anglo- American University held a guest lecture by Konrad Pedziwiatr from University of Economics in Krakow about migration crisis from the perspective of the European Union and successive Polish governments.

As Dr. Pedziwiatr highlighted, this is not the first time in history migration crisis like this occurred. This generation already has experience with migration in the 1990s – consequence of an outbreak of the Balkan war – leading to a flow of refugees deeper into Europe and creation of minorities all over central Europe. Similarly, 2015 was a critical year for migration mainly due to war in Syria.

In his lecture, Dr. Pedziwiatr identified the key push and pull factors of current migration crisis. The key push factors being: ongoing violence in Syria showing no signs of abating, destabilization in many more countries in the Middle East, people losing hope that they can return to their homes in Syria, not enough international aid to help refugees, insufficient educational arrangements, poverty and lack of economic opportunities in many developing countries. On the other hand, the key pull factors are: geography – physical proximity of Greece, Malta, Italy – existence of international refugee conventions and refugee path of migration (generous and not coherent EU asylum system), possibility of obtaining refugee status in Europe, migration networks – they add to already existing communities, the portrayal of a welcoming Europe on television and social media, commercial sector (brokers and smugglers) and EU policies.

Dr. Pedziwiatr continued with a discussion of Polish responses to the crisis that changed from May 2015 from cautious openness of Polish people to refugees to full rejection of asylum seekers in April 2016. Media portrayal of refugees mostly as terrorists led to right-wing political affiliation, the rise of xenophobic and racist sentiments in Poland. He concluded with debating the very term “Islamophobia” as becoming a growing issue in Poland also in high governmental positions. So, the refugee crisis is far from over until we manage to better understand the true sources of migration (push and pull factors) and EU and member states reform its asylum system and support frontier states.

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Publication date: August 03, 2017