Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

Refugee Crisis: Apart from Syrians, who is travelling to Europe?

Other migrant nationalities

According to Patrick Kingsley, the UN Migration correspondent, half of the 380,000 people crossing the Mediterranean sea are from Syria, but refugees from other countries are also risking their lives to flee conflict. Syrians account for 50% of the 380,000 refugees who had arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean by early September, but several other nationalities are also turning up. According to UN figures, 75% of the total refugees come from countries in the middle of armed conflict or humanitarian crises. Later in this post, what Souad Mekhennet and William Booth have to say about migrants disguising themselves as Syrians to enter Europe will be also be explored. So apart from Syria, where are they coming from, and why were they forced to leave?

Refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos
Refugees arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing from Turkey in a dinghy. 

Afghans – 13%
According to the Afghan government, 80% of the country is in danger. That is because terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State’s local affiliate are waging insurgencies in many provinces. Civilians are at risk of constant bombings, while many individuals are running away because they have received specific threats from these terrorists.

Eritreans – 8%
Eritrea is Africa’s version of North Korea, a country with no constitution, court system, elections or free press. Outside of the metropolitan elite, most Eritreans are made work in forced labour. Anyone who disagrees is sent to prison without any judicial recourse.

Nigerians – 4%
The Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram, is still fighting a battle in northern Nigeria, killing and kidnapping the local people and obligating many to flee. “Boko Haram is everywhere, killing innocent people every day,” said Vincent Collins, 24, who defined himself as a victim of the war. “Bombing, fighting, every day. It’s so terrible.”

Somalians – 3%
In Somalia, just like in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islamist insurgents, including al-Shabaab, are fighting a battle, with helpless citizens stuck in the middle. An 18 year-old footballer called Eissa Abdirahman, said he had to leave because he was attacked by al-Shabaab fighters and he was instructed to stop playing football. “They put a gun to my head and kicked me,” said Abdirahman, right after being rescued from the Mediterranean earlier on in the month of September. “They said: ‘If you don’t stop playing football, we will kill you.’”

Pakistanis – 3%
According to the UN (United Nations), over 1.2 million Pakistanis have been displaced by hostilities in Pakistan, more than 20,000 civilians lives have been lost. The offence on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and the massacre of 100 students in Peshawarare on December 2014 are horrifying examples of the threats ordinary people face because of the extremists.

Iraqis – 3%
Several areas of Iraq, including its second city, Mosul, have recently been conquered by Isis, making a nightmare that began with the west’s invasion of the country in 2003 much worse. A civil servant who fled Mosul a month ago named Ahmad, and recently reached central Europe, claimed that the extremists are making people pray by force, using them as their human shields. He also said that they’ve also murdered many people, and detained many others before killing them.

Sudanese – 2%
Civil wars in the country’s Darfur and Kordofan regions continue to uproot civilians. A 21-year-old named Mohamed Abdallah, from Darfur, said he had no choice but to flee when he was only 12. This was when government militias destroyed his village, murdered many of the local people, and raped his sisters. “There is a war in my country, there’s no security, no equality, no freedom,” he said. He tried to reach Europe earlier this summer, after the war spread into south Sudan, where he had first fled to.

Migrants are disguising themselves as Syrians to enter Europe

 There are many people camouflaged among the tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees passing through the train stations of Europe who are neither Syrian nor refugees, but who are desperately hoping to blend into the mass migration and find a way into the West.

There are well-dressed Iranians speaking Farsi who maintain the idea that they are members of the persecuted Yazidis of Iraq. There are Indians who do not know how to speak Arabic yet they that say they are from Damascus. There are Pakistanis, Albanians, Egyptians, Kosovars, Somalis and Tunisians from countries with much poverty and violence, but no war.

It should come as no surprise that many migrants seem to be passing themselves of as war refugees. Their goal, after all, is the possibility of benefits, residency and work in Europe.

Leaders in Germany and other European nations say they are prepared to give asylum to legitimate refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, but they are issuing more harsh warnings that they will decline many of the economic migrants constantly streaming over their borders.


  • Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

3 responses to “Refugee Crisis: Apart from Syrians, who is travelling to Europe?

  1. Pingback: Refugee Crisis: Apart from Syrians, who is travelling to Europe? | emerhalferty

  2. Joseba Abaitua January 27, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    I see the point made by Julen. I also believe that nationalities are not the issue of these conflicts. These regions are so unstructured that the concepts of nationality or citizenship do not even apply.

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