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Causes of Displacement

Felix Braunsdorf

Division for International Cooperation
Global Policy and Development

+ 49-(0)30-269 35 7462
felix.braunsdorf(at)fes.de

A World in Motion

(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.


Articles on causes of displacement

Migration Policy: No Deal with the Devil

21.12.2017 Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | News

Why a global migration policy without Trump is better.


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Alternative Route Black Sea?

27.11.2017 Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | News | Publikation

While access to the Mediterranean Sea is getting increasingly difficult, migrants are looking for alternative ways to Europe. Simina Guga takes a look...


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Structural Change, Not Vanilla Ice Cream

14.11.2017 Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | News

Having the courage to be radical: How structural change can enable integration and participation.


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Negotiations, Not Sales

10.11.2017 Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | News

A stricter regulation of arms exports to crisis regions reduces causes of displacement and also makes German diplomacy more credible.


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Lower the Drawbridge: The “Fortress Europe” Must Open Its Gates

20.10.2017 Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | Politik für Europa | Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik in Europa | News

Europe needs a coalition of the willing to open more legal and safe opportunities of migration to Europe.


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Causes of displacement in the spotlight

Poor countries take in most refugees

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.

There are no short term solutions

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.

Europe must acknowledge its (co-)responsibility

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.

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