The images of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in September, were a watershed moment point in global public awareness of the stream of asylum seekers fleeing the Middle East into Europe.
The tragedy of the Kurdi family – Alyan’s brother and mother also drowned – was one of thousands of deaths at sea in the mass movement of people, who are mainly fleeing the conflict in Syria.
This chart, from a recent demographics note to clients from the Credit Suisse global fixed income research team, shows the breathtaking acceleration in migrant arrivals by sea to Europe – and with it, the huge rise in the number of dead or missing persons.
This year, almost one million people have reached Europe. Governments are wrestling with how to deal with this, notably Germany, where Angela Merkel has been forced to harden her previously accommodating position on accepting refugees, especially following the terrorist atrocities in Paris.
“In January 2015, a survey indicated 52.1% of Europeans thought migration should decrease,” the Credit Suisse team notes. “This was before this year’s terrorist attacks. Recent trends show Europe’s right-wing parties gaining traction in popular polls.”
The management of this will be a crucial issue to watch in Europe for 2016.
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