Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BBC World Service Newsday talks to the RSC Director about the EU response to the refugee crisis

The EU has recently announced that it will be giving €2.6 billion in aid, over 6 years, to EU Member States dealing with the refugee and migrant crisis. In an interview on BBC World Service Newsday (11 August), Professor Alexander Betts has said that while this is a step in the right direction, “money is not the absolute solution to the problem”.

The problem, he says, with the €2.6 billion, is that it is money, “it moves finance but it doesn’t move people… Politically, one of the main sources of distress…is the inequality in the numbers of people” that countries are receiving. For example, 50,000 people arrived in Greece in July alone, compared with 3-4000 trying to cross to the UK from Calais.

Regarding the EU asylum process, he said: “The Dublin convention means that there is a fundamental inequality in European asylum policy. The first country an asylum seeker arrives in – Greece or Italy – takes the overwhelming bulk of responsibility and in theory there should be compensation mechanisms, relocation of people during an emergency, and a European refugee fund. Up to now those have been far too little and it means that inevitably the majority of people are going to Italy, Greece, the frontline states of the Mediterranean. That creates dispute, arguments between governments, and while Europe squabbles, people die.”

Professor Betts highlights that the bulk (95%) of the world's refugees are in nations (such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey) that neighbour countries in conflict and crisis – compared to which the current numbers arriving in Europe are relatively small. He concludes that “we have an absolute legal obligation under international law to admit people onto our territory if they face a well-founded fear of persecution, and that’s really the mark of a civilised state.”

Listen to the full interview >>

Related content

Alexander Betts People

From ‘swarm’ to ‘illegal’: dissecting how we talk about migrants News & Media

Creative solutions are needed for refugees and asylum seekers News & Media

‘Lack of safe access to asylum’ is the major shortcoming of EU asylum policy News & Media

New study calls for fundamental rethink of the Dublin system and for legal and safe avenues to protection in Europe News & Media

Humanitarian Innovation Project Research