Responding to Europe’s refugee/migration crisis
A Jubilee Centre/CPFE film
In 2015 over a million people arrived in Europe, on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the 1940s.
At that time, European nations signed the 1951 Refugee Convention guaranteeing protection for refugees, to try and prevent humanitarian tragedies like the one following the Second World War.
This reflected the value placed on human rights, freedom of conscience and compassion towards the vulnerable and displaced.
Who are the migrants?
People arriving in Europe today are both refugees and other types of migrant. [Refugees, Students, Economic migrants, Family members.] Their needs differ, as do our responsibilities towards each category.
The great majority are refugees from the Middle East, fleeing war and persecution.
Some are economic migrants, seeking better jobs – but unlike refugees, they can return to their own country safely.
International students almost all do return home when their course finishes…
…while other people come to join family members who have already settled in Europe.
What do politicians say?
Some see the present number of migrants as a threat, while others believe every refugee should be welcomed, whatever the cost.
Public opinion is strongly influenced by the way this is reported in the news media.
Refugees can be cast as innocent victims, vulnerable individuals who deserve our compassion.
Alternatively migrants are portrayed as intruders who threaten our peace and security.
We should be aware of how the different news organisations are seeking to influence public opinion and the political debate.
What are the costs and benefits?
The decision to accept or refuse people entry to a country affects more than just the migrants.
Larger businesses gain a source of cheap labour, leading to economic growth.
But there can be a cost in terms of pressure on housing, wages, school places or health facilities. Rapid migration can also affect social cohesion and perceptions of security.
A fair approach to migration should not only support vulnerable refugees and migrants, but also try to minimise any negative impact their arrival has on others.
What should be done?
Voters and politicians often over-estimate the ability of governments to control immigration.
People have been on the move for centuries, and it’s difficult to regulate migration when there are strong push or pull factors involved. [War, Persecution, Famine, Insecurity]
The challenge now is to work on prevention as well as response.
[Three priorities for prevention and response]
[Priority #1: peace-building] The first priority is to re-establish peace and stability in Syria and other volatile countries, so refugees can return safely and rebuild their lives.
[Priority #2: safe refugee routes] Secondly, while European countries have the right to control their borders, they also have a duty to respect the refugee conventions.
So safe transit routes must be opened for refugees, and the most vulnerable protected along the way.
[Priority #3: welcome and support] Lastly, once people do reach a safe haven, they should be treated with dignity and respect.
[How can Christians get involved?]
Christians have always been inspired by the biblical mandate to love and care for orphans, widows and foreigners. Today, individual believers and local churches can play a vital role in this crisis.
[Advocacy:] We can urge politicians to make peace-building a top priority, and provide more humanitarian aid to the neighbouring countries which shelter the most refugees
[Assistance:] We can support charities working with displaced people
[Hospitality:] And we can take part in welcoming refugees arriving in our city or region
Local churches can go beyond that, and help all categories of migrant to integrate more effectively by offering hospitality, practical help, language classes, legal advice, and advocacy.
Through our example, we can provoke others to think about what kind of society we want to live in, and demonstrate the importance of compassion to all in need, no matter what their religion or belief.
And we can raise our voice to demand a better balance between protection against excess migration, and protection for refugees seeking safety on Europe’s shores.
Although the number of people crossing to Europe continues to grow, and there are no easy answers, each one of us can play a part in bringing good out of these difficult and challenging times.
Written and directed by Jonathan Tame
Narrated by Malcolm Guite
Research by Gemma Hooper
Consultant: Noemi Mena Montes
Narration recorded at Kite Recording Studio, Cambridge
Video created by Mirata Ltd.
Music: Prelude No. 16 by Chris Zabriskie from
Sound effects by Mike Koenig from
Images and music used under Creative Commons
licenses CC-BY-SA/NC/ND 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 available at
Ben White CAFOD
Délmagyarország, Schmidt Andrea
European Union/Sakis Mitrolidis, Genya Savilov
Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Basma
Imperial War Museum (F4505, E19024, Q10829)
Nottingham Trent University
Open Door North East
UN Photo archive
Special thanks to Syria Freedom for putting
all their images into the public domain
This film was made with the support of the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE).
From 2011 on, the activities of the CPFE are financially supported by the European Parliament. The liability for any communication or publication by the CPFE, in any form and any medium, rests with the CPFE. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
© Jubilee Centre 2016
To find out more about the issues raised in this film, go to