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How Syria’s refugee crisis affects South African emigrants

By September 16, 2015October 10th, 2023Financial emigration

How Syria’s refugee crisis affects South African emigrants

September 16, 2015

If you’re planning on immigrating to Europe from South Africa, you’re probably wondering how the refugee crisis will affect your move. The short answer? It won’t. Well, not in a direct way anyway. But with the greatest refugee crisis since World War II underway, you should know what’s going on and why, since a crisis of this magnitude has an impact on all of us from a humanitarian standpoint at least.

The 2015 migrant crisis in a nutshell

So here are the most important facts for you:

  • The Syrian civil war is a conflict between the government (led by the Assad family who has been in power since 1971) and those seeking new rule.
  • The catalyst for the war is said to be the incarceration and death of children who painted anti-regime graffiti on structures, as well as the Syrian Army firing on demonstrators in April 2011, leading to an armed rebellion.
  • Estimates for the civilian death toll ranges between 140 200 and 330 000, though no one is exactly sure.
  • Approximately 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the civil war started in March 2011.
  • Germany has taken in about 85% of the refugees. But in an announcement that shocked the world, they also stated that they’ll be reinstating border controls, thwarting the Schengen Agreement.
  • The Schengen Agreement, which applies to 26 European countries and an area of 4 312 099 square kilometres, allows for free flow across European borders and a ‘common visa policy’ for Europeans moving within this area.
  • The Dublin Regulation, states that a country who first receives an application for asylum by a refugee is responsible for either accepting or rejecting asylum and the asylum seeker may not re-apply at any other country who has signed the regulation if his/her application is rejected. This has been partially suspended for the current migrant crisis due to bordering countries becoming overburdened with refugees.
  • The Geneva convention recognises that refugees may have to breach another country’s immigration laws to escape threats, which means refugees do not necessarily need to enter a territory legally (subject to several conditions, for instance – they must have fled from a neighbouring country).
  • The UN estimates another 850 000 refugees will have crossed the Mediterranean by the end of 2016.
  • Although the flood of refugees started in 2011, migrant deaths – especially by drowning – have only been spotlighted in the last few months, giving the rest of the world a heads up as to what’s going on.
  • Despite headlines in the press,  most refugees have not fled to Europe – and have crossed, instead, into Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Only about 350 000 refugees have sought asylum in Europe thus far.
  • Despite critics warning that unchecked immigration will have dire effects on countries taking in refugees, most countries around the world have softened their stance on refugee intake. Australia and the USA, for instance, have taken in refugees from Syria. Even Spain, Czech Republic and Poland have expressed a willingness to take on refugees.
  • The UK is one of the regions with the highest political anti-immigration movements, receiving strong opposition to accepting refugees within its borders.
  • Following the failure of EU ministers to agree on a common strategy, Hungary has introduced a new immigration law which will see refugees facing deportation or incarceration if they enter Hungarian borders illegally. They closed their main crossing with Serbia on 14 September and imposed border checks elsewhere.

Taking the abovementioned facts into consideration, it’s clear the migrant crisis is far from over, and there are great policy disparities on dealing with refugees. On the one hand, countries are becoming more accepting of refugees, on the other, they are imposing stricter migratory regulations.

It remains to be seen what solution the EU, and countries worldwide, will find to this devastating crisis. Clearly the greatest solution would be to address the source – which is negotiating peace within Syrian borders. Something which does not seem likely in the near future. Irrespective of national and international policies, however, this upheaval speaks to each of us as individuals – to act with compassion as we consider the consequences of forced displacement on our cultural, social and family structures.

South Africans living abroad

If you’ve emigrated from South Africa the refugee crisis should, however, not have an affect on your immigration, but it may affect your travel plans. Reinstated border checks could hamper free flow of travellers throughout Europe, so you may want to add additional time to your travels just to be safe. And remember to have all your documentation on hand.

If you’re simply concerned with moving your money across borders, of course you can look to We’ll help with all aspects of financial emigration – no crisis. Whether you want to open an offshore bank account, need help with your taxes, trusts or South African inheritance, want to emigrate formally or simply need advice on international finances – you know you’re in good hands with

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