Although many European nations have intervened, intervened in genocides, civil wars and refugee influx, the current refugee crisis in Europe poses a new challenge for the European Union and surrounding nations. The large and ongoing influx of Middle Eastern migrants to Europe began shortly after the beginning of the Syrian Civil war, where civilians from Syria and outlying Arabic countries fled from the clash between religious extremist groups and government forces. Since 2011, several million migrants have arrived in nations such as Germany, Britain, France, Sweden, and many others. Although many of these nations take pride in their willingness to take in refugees — touting themselves as successful, multicultural societies — a sudden increase of population leads to strain on the economy and government support, as well as issues with cultural boundaries.
One major issue stirring criticism of migrant populations in Europe is the recent refugee influx is largely unemployed. Many countries — like Germany and Sweden — are facing financial strain from providing benefits either in money or housing for refugees. The rates of employment for migrant populations differs significantly from current residents. In Sweden, only 5% of native citizens ages 15-74 are jobless, while 22.5% of non-native refugees remain jobless. Many do not have the training or educational level to fill this large gap in employment — few jobs can be filled by those that are untrained. For example, fewer than 5% of jobs in Sweden require less than a high school diploma and 9% of jobs in Germany require less than a high school diploma. Furthermore, refugee integration and training programs in Sweden are considered to be some of the best in the world. However, fewer than 22% of low-educated refugee men and 8% of low-educated refugee women complete the course, perpetuating the problem of integration and language barriers.
Another major problem lies in sociocultural friction. Since the beginning of the migrant influx, numerous issues have arisen from cultural and religious differences between migrants and natives. The lack of integration has resulted in ghettoization, spikes in crime — notably violent crime and sex crimes — and religiously-motivated violence. Since 2011, terror attacks have been carried out by religious extremists and organizations all across Europe, most notably in France, Belgium, England and Germany. However, there has been a disturbing trend in terror attacks since 2011: many have been motivated by Islamic terror organizations or lone-wolves of Muslim or Middle Eastern descent. Many attackers entered the European Union by evading security or forging papers to enter various countries. With the sharp increase in Islamic extremism — as well as the swift change of population demographics — local and national law enforcement around Europe are strained and on constant alert for future terror attacks. These agencies now find it difficult to patrol in migrant-dense neighborhoods without facing violence or resistance to investigation. Furthermore, vast cultural and religious differences has resulted in culture conflicts between the roles of gender, sex, sexual preference and ethnicity. High rates of sexual assault committed by migrants in pools and bathhouses led several German cities to discriminate public pools by gender. During New Year’s Celebrations in Germany, there were 1200 counts of sexual assault, with 600 reported in Cologne, as well as 400 reports in Hamburg alone. Approximately 2000 men — allegedly North African or Arab in appearance — carried out these attacks, according to USA Today. In Sweden there were 38 reports of sexual assault at various music festivals in August 2016, with most of the perpetrators being Middle Eastern migrants, according to Russia Today. Migrants have committed many attacks against gay and trans individuals for being open about their sexual orientation. These examples reveal a sharp contrast in culture norms regarding gender and sex, potentially posing future problems for the integration of migrants into Europe.
With these cultural, social and religious tensions mounting, it appears opening borders and allowing millions of people from various countries to set up camp has backfired, becoming potentially dangerous. Unless better efforts to integrate migrants into native culture, language, and cultural norms of gender and sex doesn’t occur, Europe could face future friction between migrants and natives for many generations to come.