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Europe’s migration crisis: A week of woe

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Nimer Rashed | Moment | Getty Images

It's the issue that refuses to go away: people from war-torn and less prosperous countries and their struggle to enter Europe by whatever means they can.

Across the region – at Calais in France and in the Greek islands of the Adriatic Sea in – governments are scrabbling for a solution on how to care for and process people seeking a new life in the 28-country European Union.

It is difficult to arrive at an exact death toll for the rapidly evolving humanitarian catastrophe, but lives continue to be lost as would-be migrants try to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the British Channel by whatever means they can.

CNBC takes a look at what has been a week of woe for Europe.


Middle East to Mediterranean

Just this week, the European Commission announced that it had set aside 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) of aid over six years for countries like Greece and Italy to help them deal with increased arrivals, often from stricken countries like Libya, Iraq, Syria or Eritrea.

The hundreds of thousands of people believed to have migrated to the EU this year as refugees pales in comparison to the millions of refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Pakistan and Jordan, displaced as a result of conflict in the Middle East. Yet the crisis has gained more global visibility as attention shifts to Western Europe.

On the Greek island of Kos -- where thousands of men, women and children who had fled to Greece were reportedly held in a sports stadium for days with little food, water or shelter -- the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders warned that the "dire" situation is turning "from bad to worse".

Calais concerns

On the French coast, Calais has also become a focal point for concerns. Camps have been set up outside the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel and migrants have been determinedly trying to get to the U.K. by boarding lorries or trains travelling in the Eurotunnel, often with tragic results.

The pressure is on policymakers in the EU to do something to solve the problem before it intensifies even further.

The U.K. government has also been warned that continuing to pursue its migration control policies may have a negative impact on business – and is facing defeat on its attempts to block benefit payments to migrants.


The Migration Advisory Committee, which was appointed by the government to handle the situation, has warned against raising the salary threshold for skilled migrants coming to the U.K. -- a key part of the government's attempts to cut net migration to tens of thousands.

There has been some speculation that lower than expected U.K. wage growth has, in part, been caused by lower paid migrant workers, and the relatively large black market in employment is doubtless not helping.

"Skilled migrants bring huge benefits to the UK, making sure businesses have access to the specialist expertise they need to succeed, helping the economy to grow," Katja Hall, deputy director-general of U.K. business body the CBI, said in a statement.

"The committee found little evidence to support the misplaced view that skilled migrants undercut the wages of UK resident workers."