Introduction to  migration

Since 2011 increasing numbers of people have fled towards Europe, as a result of conflict and violence in several African countries, civil unrest in North Africa, and the civil war in Syria. These numbers have swollen to a flood in 2015, on a scale not seen since WW11. The subsequent crisis involves the whole of Europe, and widens the issues for the EU to address namely humanitarian aid, EU asylum policy, demographic problems for an ageing continent, and integration.

In the UK concerns have focused on the number of migrants including those from the EU  arriving in the country after the 2004 enlargement. Successive Conservative governments since 2010 have made manifesto commitments to reduce net immigration, both EU and non EU, to the tens of thousands.  


A starting point in the debate has to be about sorting out the language used and being clear about the distinction between migrant, refugee and economic migrant.

Click here for a simple interactive quiz to test what you know already and any misunderstandings about the meaning of key words – immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, illegal immigrant.