(Forced) displacement and migration are shaping the 21st century. The boundaries between displacement and migration are blurred, the reasons for both are varied: climate change that destroys the livelihoods of whole populations, environmental pollution, natural disasters, violent conflicts, as well as the widening gap between winners and losers of globalization. The notion to clearly separate between displacement and migration does not adequately reflect the complexity of the challenges. Therefore, it is similarly problematic trying to divide migrants and label them based on the cause of migration - war, economic reasons, poverty or environmental disasters.
Poor countries take in the highest number of refugees
While the number of international migrants is steadily rising, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has increased exponentially in the last few years. So far, Europe is neither the primary destination for migrants, nor does it bear the brunt of taking them in. However, for a long time, the public in Europe and Germany has for the most part turned a blind eye to the magnitude of human mobility.
There are no short-term solutions
Instead of finding long-term solutions, European politics is still largely focused on preventing migration, rather than shaping it. Policies that promise quick solutions are often not sustainable. The focus must therefore shift to the central conflict causes and the reasons for why people leave their homes.
Europe must assume its share of responsibility
In order to tackle the causes of displacement and forced migration, an understanding of Europe's and in particular Germany's historical, political and economic share of responsibility is crucial. Trade agreements, the conduct of transnational companies as well as climate, agricultural, and commodity policies, and arms exports: Europe must assume stewardship. It must begin treating displacement and migration as a global phenomenon that is relevant across EU borders.
While the number of international migrants is constantly increasing, the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons have risen in recent years as well. So far, Europe is not the primary destination of these people, nor does it bear the brunt or receive most of them. It is just that politicians and the public in Europe and Germany have long ignored the global scale of forced migration and displacement.
Instead of thinking about long-term solutions, policymakers in Europe continue to focus on preventing migration rather than shaping it. Policies that promise quick fixes are often not sustainable. The focus must shift to the root causes of conflicts and the reasons why people leave their homelands.
An understanding of Germany's and Europe's historical, political and economic co-responsibility in the fight against the causes of displacement and forced migration is crucial. Be it in the formulation of trade agreements, the behavior of transnational corporations, climate, agricultural or raw materials policy, or arms exports: Europe must live up to its responsibility and treat displacement and migration as what they are - a global phenomenon that is not only relevant at the EU's external borders.