Despite the efforts of European nations to tighten their borders, one million Syrian migrants are set to arrive in the continent over the coming year, a Middle East analyst has said.
The figure would be double that of last year, when around 500,000 people crossed from the war-torn nation into Europe, making up one of the largest constituencies of the migrant crisis.
Speaking to German magazine Der Spiegel, Fabrice Blanche, research director at the University of Lyon and visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that ongoing battles for Aleppo are affecting some two million people, while people are also fleeing relatively peaceful cities due to the deteriorating economic situation.
Add to that the number of people who are travelling to Europe to join family members who are already in the continent, and we can expect to see one million new arrivals from Syria if the current trend contines, Mr Blanche said.
Last month Gerd Müller, Germany’s Development Minister, warned that only a tenth of potential migrants from Syria and Iraq had reached Europe so far, and even more were to come from North Africa, with the figure reaching up to 10 million.
“The biggest movements are ahead: Africa’s population will double in the coming decades,” he said in an interview. “In the Sahara up to one million people have died trying to escape.”
The huge influx would almost certainly lead to the end of the Schengen visa-free travel zone, and the European Commission is losing its credibility over the crisis, he added.
“The protection of external borders is not working. Schengen has collapsed. A fair distribution of refugees has not taken place.”
His comments echoed those of Social Democrat MP Heinz Buschkowsky who said in November that Germany faces an “avalanche” of migrants, and should expect up to 10 million by 2020 if current trends continue.
This influx, he said, would change the country forever.
“The situation is irreversible. The people who are here now, this society is challenged to integrate them and to offer them a perspective on life”.