This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Europe's Migrant Culture Clash and Mash

Over the past two years or so, I have blogged increasingly often about the undocumented migrant situation facing Europe. This is largely a result of the economic and political mess in the Middle East and Africa, but it is aided in some ways by the limited willingness or inability of at least some European nations to take in refugees. Today's news brought two very contrasting reactions to these migrants. In Hungary, the government is thinking about deploying troops to deal with the migrant crisis, as reported by the Financial Times.
Janos Lazar, a senior Hungarian minister, said the government had discussed a possible military build-up following police reports that more than 2,500 migrants had penetrated the country’s border with Serbia on Tuesday. One official said the numbers were the highest in the country’s history.
Unfortunately, not all those migrants heading north from Serbia (as I discussed a couple of days ago) were still alive when they made it north. CCTVAfrica posted a photo of a truck in which 50 migrants had been found dead in Austria. They had been trapped in the back of the truck and suffocated during the journey. The driver abandoned the truck and is now being sought.
At a press conference in Eisenstadt, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said it demonstrated “the despicable methods used by Mafia traffickers in all their ugliness in Austria”. “Today is a dark day,” she added and vowed there would be zero tolerance shown towards any that were caught.
A different approach to dealing with migrants is being tried at least in a small way in Italy, where OZY reports that families are taking in refugees and providing them with an informal introduction to Italian language and culture. Families receive a monthly stipend for doing this, much as foster families do in the U.S. for caring for children who have been abandoned by their parents. It's not clear that this will catch on in a big way, but it is a step in the direction of coping with the cultural differences that exist between sending and receiving nations and which are almost certainly the biggest challenges anywhere in the world to the issue of migration.

UPDATE: Foreign Policy reports that:
In the Austrian case, three people in Hungary have been arrested in connection to the truck deaths. Authorities believe a Bulgarian-Hungarian trafficking ring is responsible. The victims are believed to be Syrian, police said.

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