The BBC has compiled a kaleidoscope of compelling voices to describe the incredible impact of a European migrant crisis that has changed how countries worldwide relate to their underclasses.
In short personal paragraphs from migrants themselves, interspersed with observations by reporters who witnessed and reported events, the article traces a story which begins with a catastrophe fled by millions. It is initially met with compassion as well as assistance in countries that one way or another became the destination of these refugees.
But as the story unfolds, the numbers begin to overwhelm the resources of the destination countries. Compassion changes to dismay and welcoming with open arms to expressions and actions of hostility and prejudice. Assistance becomes resistance.
Over the last few years, anti-poverty and affordable housing activists in many countries have been increasingly hopeful that governments will finally begin to address growing housing crises for their native underclasses, who were struggling to cope even before migrants arrived in such large numbers.
The experiences of European countries overwhelmed by migrants provides some understanding of the social and economic challenges of an unexpected and extraordinary swelling of their native underclasses. It’s not entirely surprising that current solutions, even to provide the most basic shelter from homelessness for all, remain stubbornly elusive, never mind the problems of providing millions with employment and a path to economic self-sufficiency.
The story also shines a light upon a current US government’s almost hysterical resistance towards low- and no-income migration, regardless of its recent historical importance to America’s economic picture.
It also helps explain a certain self-congratulatory smugness of Canadians. They see their generosity towards immigrants as unbounded, thanks to the control they can exercise over new arrivals. This is largely due to two two huge and forbidding ocean barriers east and west, as well as relatively impassible ice north and south.1
Read about some of Europe’s trials in this ongoing story at the BBC: Europe’s migrant crisis: The year that changed a continent