Shocking statistics emanating from Europe indicates that over 1 million migrants made their way to the continent this year and that only 190 of these have been formally relocated by the European Union.A staggering 972,551 entered the EU by sea while over 34,000 gained access by land. These startling details were revealed in an article by the New York Times and elsewhere ,showing the monumental challenge posed by the situation.
PARIS — The European Union’s struggle to deal with migration can be bluntly told in two numbers: More than one million people have made their way to Europe this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, and 190 have been formally relocated.
The disparity is a potent reminder of how migration has strained the European Union’s political will, its unity and its resources.
People on the front lines of this monumental undertaking are asking for patience. The question for the European Union, which has pledged to relocate 160,000 people over the next two years, is whether patience is enough.
“This is supposed to pick up rapidly, hopefully,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, regional director of the organization’s European regional office. “The machine is like a diesel. It takes time to get it started.”
The migrant crisis has been on European front pages for several years. Before the crowds at the borders in the Balkans or at Greek ports, there was the steady stream of boats full of migrants arriving in Sicily; before that, there was the camp at Calais, in northern France, popularly known as “the jungle,” from where migrants try to cross the Channel to England.
Two months ago, the French government finally announced a program to relieve the pressure in Calais and move migrants to 70 reception centers elsewhere in France.
Christian Salomé, who heads a local charity, L’Auberge des Migrants, said it was too early to precisely quantify the flow of people out of the Calais camp, but he estimated that the population of the jungle had dropped to 5,000 from 6,000 since October.
But resettling the migrants is not easy. According to the newspaper Le Monde, of 23 migrants who were relocated in November from Calais to a reception center in the city of Langres, about 180 miles southeast of Paris, only 15 remain, bored, unoccupied and frustrated by bureaucracy.
Of those who left, some may have headed back to Calais, according to migrants interviewed by Le Monde.
“Whether they stay at the centers depends on many factors — the quality of the personnel, the human warmth that they find,” Mr. Salomé said in a telephone interview.
For migrants who came to Calais in the hopes of moving on to England, relocation to provincial towns in France is probably not a long-term solution. Many will keep trying to reach countries where they can expect a quicker response to their asylum request, better hopes for a job or a chance to rejoin relatives.
According to Mr. Ambrosi, migrants are well aware of the widely varying approaches to handling asylum requests among European countries, as well as the different chances of finding work. Not surprisingly, they go where they feel they are most wanted.
“Each of the E.U. states has its own policy, and its own mechanism, and the asylum seekers know this situation very well,” he said.
Until the European Union adopts a uniform policy on migration, he said, the burden on the “welcoming” countries will increase, further straining tensions with their more reluctant neighbors and among their own populations.
France, which has committed to accepting 30,000 of the 160,000 migrants from the “front-line” states of Greece and Italy, has been trying to do its share, but the pace is slow: Some 900 migrants are expected to be formally settled here by the end of January, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
Meanwhile, more migrants are continuing to arrive in Europe, requiring additional donations from the International Organization for Migration’s 162 member countries. The organization has seen its operational budget for Greece triple since 2014.
“We are advancing towards a more uniformed response,” Mr. Ambrosi said. “We are going in the right direction, but time is of the essence.”