Should we welcome refugees with open arms?

Most of us are well aware of the Syrian crisis, as it is happening right at our doorstep. Syria’s civil war is one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. More than 11 million innocent civilians are displaced. But one fact is simple: Syrians need our help. The refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa to Europe are pushing the federal authorities to speed up proceedings. Are immigrants a burden or an opportunity for our country? Some argue that it essential to welcome them if we want to call ourselves a so-called “humanity.” However, many argue the contrary, that the refugees bring many issues especially on such a big scale so suddenly.

Before discussing whether immigration is a problem or an opportunity, the issue of migration is, above all, a reality. Whether we want it or not, there will probably be billions of migrants in 2050. In recent years, migration has even become comparable to the great waves of migration that has been in the colonization to the Americas. But that’s not all. Beyond size, migration has become increasingly globalized. The more a society develops and gives a greater value to human rights; the more mobile its citizens become. In case of war, refugees naturally move away.


Syrian refugees receiving blankets, funded by Switzerland (Source here)

While social transformations related to migration are just beginning, and the processes are difficult to reverse, the challenge is fundamentally underestimated by politicians. The majority of them are in denial of reality by suggesting to their people that it is possible to globalize everything except human traffic. In addition, many political groups (mainly right wing) lie because they want to believe that the conflict in Syria is not actually happening. Dehumanization is constant: the walls are being built in Tijuana but 11 million undocumented immigrants move to the United States. This rejection of the immigrants multiplies with the walls, barbed wire, the camps, and the retention areas needed to sustain these refugees.

However there are many issues surrounding the concept of receiving immigrants. The absence of internal border controls encourages migrants of all nationalities to migrate to Europe. This includes migrants who arrive in masses, and only some of them are actually exposed to serious harm in their original state to can be considered refugees. The immigrants may have a portion of people who are really persecuted, but there are many economic migrants wishing to improve their living conditions. And that is not our priority; we first want to help the people in danger. In 2015, the Syrians represent less than a third of people entering Europe illegally.

The increase in the number of asylum applications in Switzerland is worrying. In 2007, the number of asylum applications reached 10,844. But between 2008 and 2010, applications were up by 50% to reach 16,000 a year, and applications have continued to rise to nearly 24,000 in 2014.

This brings great negative economic impact for the country. The cost of asylum for the Confederation amounts to one billion francs, and there are additional costs incurred by the cantons and communes. Switzerland’s small size does not allow us to house more asylum applicants. It becomes extremely difficult in a canton like Geneva – where there is the housing crisis – to supply houses for migrants.


Basel shows solidarity for refugees in October (Source here)

In conclusion, this is merely a glimpse into the complexity of the subject. It doesn’t seem like there will ever be a simple solution to the issue. One thing, though, is certain: innocent Syrians are dying and we must work together to find a solution.


Amarelle, Cesla, and Céline Amaudruz. “Accueillir les Réfugiés à Bras Ouverts?” Le Temps 3 Oct. 2015: n. pag. Print.

“Quick Facts: What You Need to Know about the Syria Crisis.” MercyCorps. Mercy Corps Europe, 2 Sept. 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2015. <;.

By Nathalie (MYP5)


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