Causes of Displacement

Annette Schlicht
+49 30 26935-7486

International Cooperation Division
Global and European Policy Department

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

Washed away

Causes of Displacement

Climate change is making parts of the world uninhabitable for humans. In Europe too, we are not immune to “climate migration”.


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“We Demand an Emergency Plan for Sea Rescues”

Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | Displacement | Interview

On the occasion of World Refugee Day on the 20th of June, we spoke to Marie von Manteuffel from Doctors Without Borders about the situation on the...


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Migration is here to stay

Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | Migration policy | International Trade Union Policy | News

Funding public services is vital to address it, says Geneviève Gencianos of Public Services International.


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Flight and Refuge: Current trends and developments

Displacement, Migration, Integration | Causes of Displacement | Refugee Policy | News

Through a display of sobering statistics, World Refugee Day on June 20 revealed that a global tragedy of ever greater proportions is emerging.


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Combating the Causes of Displacement, not Refugees!

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

An interview with Dr. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel about the relevance of a commission of inquiry "causes of displacement".


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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.