ClimateWatch periodically analyzes the security climates of the world’s regions, focusing on conditions and developments affecting the most vulnerable identity communities while highlighting meaningful political and social steps towards security and integration. This week’s European report summarizes developments in identity security from late July through mid-August.
Insecurity in Europe was driven by the continent’s ongoing struggle to handle the record numbers of refugee and migrant arrivals in overwhelmed countries. The EU’s announcement of €2.4 billion in aid for countries affected by the influx gave a bit of hope to arrival countries like Greece, where the frustrations of more than a thousand migrants and authorities boiled over into confrontation on the eastern Mediterranean island of Kos.
Countries of transit and destination clashed over security responsibilities, with France and the U.K. pointing fingers over the deteriorating situation in the major refugee camp near the French border town of Calais. For migrants who made it to their destination countries, problems only continued. In Germany, disaffected Eritrean migrants voiced suspicion of the translators being employed to document their cases, with some reporting coercion and omissions that could impact the outcome of their asylum cases.
Migrants who have sought entry into the EU’s Schengen Area by whatever means necessary have looked to take advantage of the open mobility among member states, a condition that has been a point of political contention overshadowed by the influx of non-European migrants: migrants of European origin. Sweden has seen the poor economic conditions of Roma migrants–subject to discrimination and persecution throughout the continent–compounded by aggressive and at times violent anti-immigrant sentiment among Swedes, whose reputation for tolerance has been unsettled by the country’s high immigration rates. In England, anti-immigrant activity has led to counter-protest by Polish immigrants, who, frustrated by scapegoating, planned a blood donation drive to counter far-right depictions of selfish, unproductive immigrants.
While members of the black British community reflected on insecurity following the 2011 London riots, government watchdogs in Germany celebrated the government’s acting top prosecutor dropping the charges against Netzpolitik.org. The outlet had exposed plans for the surveillance of online communities.
Positive steps towards thriving in the UK‘s minority communities appeared in a feature on the Autistix, a rock-metal band led by three autistic musicians. Sweden witnessed similar strides in gender inclusiveness as gender-neutral pronoun “hen” found official recognition, a small but critical acknowledgment as transgender advocates throughout Europe seek protective policies that acknowledge the unique vulnerability faced by trans individuals.
Anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany will likely increase as some estimates indicate arrivals may exceed the 450,000 migrants the country’s expected to take in (already more than double the number from 2014). Violent clashes at anti-migrant demonstrations and arson attacks against refugee shelters have already drastically decreased migrant security in the country.
Greece’s triple threats–ongoing economic instability brought about by its debt crisis, political instability triggered by PM Tsipras’s recent announcement of his resignation, and social instability stemming from Greece’s overwhelmed migrant facilities and resources–have pushed the nation’s immigration infrastructure to its limit. New EU funding should support efforts, but migrants will likely find themselves the scapegoats of an embattled and embittered populace, already not shy about lashing out at new arrivals.
Hungary has mobilized thousands of law enforcement officers to fortify its border with Serbia as it builds a wall to keep migrants from entering without authorization. PM Orban has been vocal in his opposition to EU quotas for migrant intake and has not hesitated to resort to incendiary comments against migrant communities himself, which the public has been prone to take up.