The number of refugees dying en route to Europe has surged to a record-breaking high this January. On the last count, at least 230 refugees died while trying to escape their home countries to reach Europe, sparking widespread concern.
Al Jazeera reports that as of January 29, the International Organization for Migration already documented 244 deaths among migrants and refugees seeking a new life in Europe by traversing the Mediterranean Sea. This is around triple the number of deaths last January, which recorded 82 deaths. Moreover, the number recorded this year is a giant leap from the 12 recorded deaths back in January 2014. This dismaying number is backed by the UNHCR figures. The refugee agency has counted a total of 236 refugees who died or went missing from January 1 until January 29.
While the numbers are concerning, European countries are at odds on how to deal with refugees, whether to accept them with open arms and help them get to their territories or tighten their regulations against refugees, in essence making their journey to Europe even more difficult than it is already. Austria for one already announced that it now has a cap on the number of refugees it is going to take. Denmark also put up new laws that can violate refugees' fundamental human rights to address the refugee crisis. It was recently reported that Sweden will expel around 80,000 refugees seeking asylum. Coping with the crisis is indeed really complex. The state of Bavaria also already written to Chancellor Merkel asking that she changed the refugee policies.
In an interview, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere asserted that the refugee crisis is really complicated because it is an issue on so many different levels.
"Coping with the refugee crisis is complex -- it has an international aspect, a European and a national one. We are addressing all three fields methodically and step by step. It is an illusion to believe that there is a Plan A, B, or C to solve the refugee crisis," he explained.
The Interior Minister also said that the crisis needs to be resolved by September before it really goes out of hand. He explicitly said that if the crisis is not resolved by spring, it might be too late to manage it.
"We want clarity by spring. Compared to September and October, when on some days as many as 10,000 people entered Germany, the number has decreased significantly. In January, an average of 2,000 people came per day, which, projected over a year would still be very many -- too many," he said, adding that time is already running out.