Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Rich countries, with the help of the highly profitable security industry, have tried their best to use cruel migration controls, fences, walls and even guns to force people to accept lives of violence and destitution. This is not the solution." (Image: Global Justice Now/Jacob V joyce)

Breaking News: 'There Is No Migrant Crisis'

In fact, the world is facing 'a crisis of global injustice caused by war, poverty, and inequality,' says Global Justice Now

Deirdre Fulton

Search the Internet for articles on the so-called "migrant crisis," and half a million results pop up in a matter of seconds. 

There's just one problem: There is no such crisis.

"A right that only exists for the rich it not a right at all."
—Alex Scrivener, Global Justice Now

"What we call a 'migrant crisis,' is actually a crisis of global injustice caused by war, poverty, and inequality," said Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden, introducing a new briefing that draws attention to the multiple crises that are actually forcing people to relocate and calls for "free movement for everyone."

Published Monday, the briefing—Migrant Crisis or Poverty Crisis? Why Free Movement is Vital in the Battle for Global Justice (pdf)—lays blame at the feet of overlapping root causes including:

  • Poverty and economic inequality;
  • War and conflict;
  • Climate change;
  • Unfair trade deals; and
  • Colonialism, "or at least the long term legacy of it."

"Framing the increased flow of people fleeing war and poverty as a 'migrant crisis' misses the point," the document reads. "It assumes that it is the arrival of these people, rather than the situations they are trying to escape, that is the problem."

In turn, cracking down on the migrants themselves is "not the solution," Global Justice Now declares.

"Rich countries, with the help of the highly profitable security industry, have tried their best to use cruel migration controls, fences, walls and even guns to force people to accept lives of violence and destitution," the briefing says. "This is not the solution. No matter how high the walls of Fortress Europe become, the only way to solve this problem is to deal with its root causes."

Dearden added: "To demonize those making a rational choice on the part of themselves, their family and their community, obscures the truth. Migration is bringing those of us in Europe face to face with the reality of the brutal and unjust world our leaders have constructed."

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an estimated 184,887 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Spain. At least 1,357 have died in the same time period.

Instead of "pulling up the drawbridge," Global Justice Now calls for governments to work toward freedom of movement, supported by "properly funded public services" and "decent employment laws," among other things.

Not to do so amounts to "apartheid on a global scale," said Alex Scrivener, the author of the briefing and GJN policy officer.

"It's unacceptable that people from rich countries are free to go almost anywhere in the world while people from the global south are denied freedom of movement, even when they are fleeing war and extreme poverty," Scrivener argued. "A right that only exists for the rich it not a right at all. There's one rule for 'expat' Europeans and North Americans and another for the rest of the world."

The Global Justice Now briefing also calls for an end to immigration detention as soon as possible.

On Saturday, simultaneous protests took place at more than a dozen immigrant detention centers across the UK and in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Iceland. A mass "Refugees Welcome" rally is planned for May 25 in London, while the UK-based Stand Up to Racism coalition is organizing a major aid convoy to the Calais camp in France in conjunction with trade unions, the People's Assembly Against Austerity, and others beginning June 18. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Zero Tolerance for Corruption': Grijalva, Porter Demand Answers on Alleged Trump Pardon Bribery Scheme

The Democrats believe a real estate developer donated to a Trump-aligned super PAC in exchange for the pardons of two other men.

Julia Conley ·


Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," peace activist Medea Benjamin said of the new B-21 Raider.

Brett Wilkins ·


Betrayal of Railway Workers Ignites Working-Class Fury Toward Biden and Democrats

"Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic," said one rail leader. "Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class 1 rail carriers every time."

Jessica Corbett ·


With GOP House Control Looming, Pascrell Calls for Swift Release of Trump Tax Records

"Donald Trump tried to hide his tax returns from our oversight but after 1,329 days we have finally obtained the documents," said the New Jersey Democrat. "We should review and release them."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo