The migrant crisis is Europe’s greatest challenge today. No other issue facing the continent constitutes a more urgent humanitarian emergency or meaningful referendum on its liberal democratic principles. No other question of public policy encompasses as many complex geopolitical conflicts and sensitive domestic debates or provokes as visceral moral reactions. And in the absence of a firm solution, perhaps no other will more profoundly shape the continent’s future.
The immensity of the challenge and millions of lives at its stake demands a comprehensive, multi-tiered response. To live up to its democratic ideals, promote lasting regional security, and advance human dignity, Europe must work tirelessly and strategically to alleviate the plight of migrants. Although access to basic needs and relief such as food, shelter, and healthcare should be the most immediate concern, a critical element of the continent’s long-term plan must include paths to socioeconomic integration.
Yet European governments are ill-equipped to carry out this duty alone. They must find ready and willing partners across civil society whom they can rely on to tackle integration at the grassroots, interpersonal level. In recent years, some of the most innovative and impactful solutions have emerged from the continent’s growing tech industry. As linchpins of the modern economy and hotbeds of socially-minded talent, tech startup and social entrepreneurship ventures are uniquely positioned to lead the way on this issue. By partnering with tech, European governments can advance integration-driven solutions that offer sincere benefits to migrants and their countries.
The Crisis and its Costs
Part of Europe’s difficulty in developing an effective course of action has been the sheer magnitude of the crisis. In 2015 and 2016 alone, more than 1.3 million migrants from across the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe arrived in the EU while over 2.5 million applied for asylum. Although arrival rates have fallen by almost half since then, nearly 1 million migrants remain trapped in asylum limbo and thousands more in Mediterranean states such as Libya with hopes of reaching the continent.
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