"The days of irregular migration to Europe are over", announced European Council President Donald Tusk on 7 March 2016. If only this were true! Alas, this confident prediction smacks of wishful thinking.
Tinkering with the problem may possibly provide a certain amount of temporary relief, but until the root cause of the problem is tackled there can be no long-term solution.
So, what is the root cause of the migration crisis? The root cause of the migration crisis is surprisingly simple. It is largely a result of the wholesale disruption of the Islamic world, which in turn was essentially caused by over-population in the countries concerned.
Syria: High Unemployment Driven by "Youth Bulge"
Syria is a good example. The Syrian civil war has been raging now for five years. It is usually thought of as a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, but it has deeper roots. President Assad and the ruling elite belong to the Alawite sect, a branch of Shia (although Assad's wife comes from a Sunni family), but almost three-quarters of the population is Sunni - including the poorest elements. In 2011 the median age of the population was 23, meaning that half the population was below that age. (www.indexmundi.com/syria/median_age.html). According to the World Bank, youth unemployment - referring to people between the ages of 15 and 24 - stood at 33.7% in 2011. (data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.1524.ZS). The civil war began as a wave of protests driven by this disaffected "youth bulge", similar to what was happening elsewhere during the "Arab Spring".
The Syrian civil war has since spiralled out of control, resulting in over 350,000 Syrians seeking asylum in the EU in 2015 alone. Other countries account for fewer migrants, but the total number of irregular migrants entering Germany during 2015 topped the million mark, over 476,000 of whom applied for asylum. Little Hungary (population 10 million) has the dubious honour of being the second most popular destination for migrants, 177,130 of whom had applied for asylum by the end of 2015. (www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911).
The spectacular and alarming rise of the self-styled "caliphate" known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh is also largely based on its recruitment of disaffected young Muslims -- from the West as well as from the Islamic world. Ten years ago France (population 65 million) already had about 5 million Muslims, largely concentrated in the poorest parts of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other large cities. Today about a fourth of young Muslims in France are unemployed and it is estimated that Muslims make up about half of all the inmates of French prisons,
A solution can only be found once it is recognised that the disruption of Islamic societies, the rise of ISIS and the EU migrant crisis all have the same origin - high unemployment, alienation and disaffection among young Muslims driven by a high birth-rate and a "youth bulge".
The problem actually extends well beyond the Islamic world to third world countries generally. Here are a few figures produced by www.breathingearth.net:
1 person dies every: 1 minute
1 person is born every: 19.6 seconds
1 person dies every: 24.2 seconds
1 person is born every: 6.8 seconds
1 person dies every: 12.7 seconds
1 person is born every: 5.7 seconds
There is a vicious spiral at work here:
• High birth-rate coupled with declining death-rate
• Youth bulge
• High unemployment, especially among the young
• Competition for scarce resources, including basic commodities like water
• Internal disruption or civil war
• Spilling over into irregular migration into Europe
• Right-wing European backlash
• Increased unemployment in Europe
• Inter-community conflict in Europe
• Threat to European values
There is no quick fix, but there is a long-term solution, which is to put pressure on third world countries to control their population growth. Foreign aid is the key here. No third world country should receive any aid unless it can prove that it has in place a successful programme of population control.
It is all very well to say that population growth will decline naturally with increased prosperity. That is far too long-term a goal, which may never be reached. Even the well-known left-wing French economist Thomas Piketty has admitted that black income inequality in South Africa is higher now than it was under apartheid 25 years ago.
The plan announced by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, on 7 March 2016, after a "summit" with Turkey, is intended as further implementation of the joint Action Plan on migration subscribed to by 25 EU member states on 12 November 2015. It claims to have as its first priority to "address the root causes of migration", but it does no such thing. Third world birth-rates are not even mentioned!
Third world population growth must be tackled head-on. It's not a quick fix and must of course be combined with strict border controls. Population control is not going to be easy but it is achievable. Yet so far it has never even been mentioned, let alone attempted!