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Europe Spreads No Welcome Mats For Masses Of Migrants


This migration crisis is consuming all of Europe. But it's not affecting all countries equally. We're going to look now at the numbers with NPR's Ari Shapiro. Last week, he was in Calais, France, where some 3,000 people are trying to cross the English Channel into the U.K. And, Ari, you're in Turkey now, in a place called Izmir. What's happening there?

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Well, this is on the western coast of Turkey. It borders the Aegean Sea. And it's a jumping-off point for a lot of the migrants who want to cross the Mediterranean to enter the European Union and get to Greece.

MARTIN: All right, so how does the scene there compare to what was happening in Calais?

SHAPIRO: Well, Calais has been described by The Economist magazine as a sideshow in the migration crisis. And when you look at the numbers, it's really clear why. This is going to be a little bit of math, but bear with me because it's really revealing. Here in Turkey, where I am now, 2 million refugees have fled the civil war in Syria. Compare that with Europe, where the total number of migrants who have arrived by sea this year is about 250,000, according to the International Organization for Migration. So all of Europe has taken in one-eighth of the people that Turkey has. And if you look at a migrant camp in Calais, France, they have just 3,000 people. That's less than 1 percent of those who've arrive in Europe.

MARTIN: OK, so the European Union has this plan to relocate some of these migrants. What can tell us about that?

SHAPIRO: Well, you know, I said 250,000 people have arrived in Europe this year. The EU plan to relocate some of the migrants involves relocating 40,000 people over two years. And this is a plan that countries can opt out of. The United Kingdom, for example, has just decided not to participate at all.

MARTIN: So what does that do for tensions within the EU at large? I mean, I can imagine other countries that have taken in more migrants might look to the U.K. and say, what's going on?

SHAPIRO: Yeah, especially when you consider that 40 percent of the asylum applications in Europe came from just one country, Germany. And of course, Greece and Italy are taking the brunt of the arrivals, with tens of thousands of people arriving on their shores. The U.K. did not even crack the top five countries in terms of places where migrants seek asylum. And what's surprising is how little the rhetoric matches the numbers. British Prime Minister David Cameron talks about a swarm of migrants arriving on English shores to drain public services. In Hungary, the government is building a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Serbia. On the whole, we see places with fewer migrants blaming countries that have taken in more migrants. So for example, the U.K. says the rest of Europe must stop these 3,000 people from showing up at our doorstep. The rest of Europe says, are you kidding? We have 250,000; Turkey must do more to stop those people from entering the EU in the first place. And then Turkey says, we have 2 million refugees, and you're complaining about 250,000.

MARTIN: NPR's Ari Shapiro, reporting from Izmir, Turkey on the migration crisis in Europe. Thanks so much, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Good to talk to you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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