An American Nobel economist’s pressing advice for Europe

Alvin E. Roth in Politico:

GettyImages-486292786-714x475The Mediterranean isn’t an effective barrier between Europe and refugee crises in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Europe could turn this challenge into a manageable opportunity to protect refugee lives as well as its own economy. But European countries must first agree on a strategy recognizing that refugees are not widgets to be distributed or warehoused. They are people trying to make choices in their best interest. Those decisions are often a matter of life and death.

August began with news of Abdul Rahman Haroun, the Sudanese man who, after having already risked his life to reach Europe by boat, put his life in peril again, coming within yards of successfully crossing the “Chunnel” on foot to reach England and claim asylum before being arrested. Then, on August 27, 71 men, women and children, at least some of whom were Syrian, were found dead in a truck near Vienna. These refugees also had already somehow safely reached Europe, but boarded a smuggler’s truck to make it to another European destination. Instead, they suffocated and perished.

These stories are shocking but not surprising. The developing world hosts over 80 percent of asylum seekers, but a growing number are making their way to industrialized countries. These refugees are trying to get to specific countries within Europe. Sweden, for example, received 81,325 asylum seekers in 2014, or 8,365 refugees per one million Swedes. In contrast, while Greece had 34,422 boat arrivals in 2014, only 9,435 applied for asylum in Greece. That’s only 859 per one million Greeks.

More here.