In 2015, the war in Syria and economic hardship in parts of Africa led to record levels of migration in Europe. Some experts have advised caution over the numbers, stressing that mass movement of people has been an even greater challenge for the international community at key points in the past century, including World War Two and the wars in Vietnam and the Balkans.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. What does 'a quarter of a million' refer to?
2. When did the Kosovo conflict take place?
3. What is the new factor in the current European immigrant crisis?
4. How long does it take a wave of immigrants to be absorbed by the destination countries?
5. Why did the Vietnamese boat people leave their country?
6. What is the global problem that makes it difficult to deal with the current refuge crisis?
The vast wave of would-be immigrants into Europe has seemed unprecedented, and yet this sort of thing has been happening again and again for a hundred years.
When Germany invaded Belgium in 1914, a million people fled the country, and a quarter of a million came to Britain. After 1945, an estimated twelve million ethnic Germans fled Eastern Europe. They took refuge in East and West Germany. During the Kosovo conflict in 1988 and 9, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians fled abroad. But there is something new and different about this current wave.
I think it’s a crisis of politics rather than numbers. What's dramatic about today is this is the first time Europe has faced people coming outside of Europe in large numbers as refugees. So the fact that many are Muslims, that they are from the Middle East, is perceived often as threatening, as challenging Europe's identity.
Even so, for centuries now, Britain, like the rest of Europe, has accepted great waves of immigrants, and each time it has needed at least a generation to absorb them. This process of absorption has never been as great as it is now, with more than three hundred languages being spoken in schools here in London. Yet with each new wave of immigrants, the basic reaction to them seems exactly the same.
The Asians arrived in cold, wet weather at Stansted...
We saw this divided response when almost 60,000 Ugandan Asians were forced out by Idi Amin in the 1970s. Some people welcomed them, others didn't.
If there was room, there was houses, there was jobs I would say nothing about it, nothing at all, but again, I say that we have too many coloured people in this country to absorb in our community at this time.
That hasn't always been the international response. After the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese boat people, fearing Communist persecution, sought refuge abroad, and the United States persuaded the outside world to accept them. That was then.
We have a global problem, which is poor global governance, if you like, at a multilateral level. It’s the rise of other powers. The US doesn't have the influence it had, and the big powers don't agree fundamentally on some of these big issues and Syria is a classic example. So the problems are not being fixed, no-one can come in with a big stick and sort it out, and therefore we are left picking up the pieces in ways which are extremely difficult to deal with.
An entire century of exile and homelessness. The pictures are remarkably similar, so is the cause: conflict and bad government. Unless they are dealt with, the flow won't stop.
John Simpson, BBC News.
1. Belgians who went to Britain when the Germans invaded their country
3. the large number of immigrants coming from outside Europe
4. a generation
5. they were afraid of the Communist persecution
a problem of governance or new powers have emerged or the big powers
don't agree or one nation (US) doesn't hold all the power