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What Is Asylum and How Does It Work?
How Millions of Migrants Are Entering Europe
This week, European leaders will convene in Brussels in an emergency summit on how to handle the tens of thousands of refugees that continue to pour into the EU from the Middle East and North Africa. Leaders from central and eastern Europe are pushing back on a mandatory quota system that would require all EU member states to take in as many refugees as they could feasibly handle. The resistance draws on nationalist ideals and, in some cases, xenophobia. Nevertheless, this edition of TestTube News looks at the rights of people, around the world, as they flee their homeland to find a better life.
First, semantics are important here. The term "refugee" and "asylum seeker" applies to anyone who is leaving their home country due to unforeseen circumstances, such as war or persecution. The United Nations held a convention in 1951 and outlined specific rights for refugees, prompted by the massive displacement of people following WWII. The convention stated that all refugees had the right to apply for asylum, and once that application was accepted, they could access the country's courts, primary education, work placements, and identification cards. Generally speaking refugees also have access to social services and support networks.
These legal protections are vital, but the main challenge is getting people admitted as refugees and recognition as asylum seekers. The EU currently has a policy in effect known as the Dublin Regulation, requiring migrants to apply for asylum in the first country of arrival. The policy was designed to curb multiple applications in various countries and to ensure claims are dealt with efficiently. However, certain countries have been overwhelmed by the influx. Germany, for its part, has lifted the Dublin Regulation and is predicted to take in as many as 800,000 migrants this year.
Here's a quick explainer that shows how migrants are making their way into Europe: