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Hillary Clinton tells Europe to 'get a hold on migration' to halt rise in populism

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Hillary Clinton tells Europe to 'get a hold on migration' to halt rise in populism
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Europe needs to "get a handle on migration" to halt the rise in populism, Hillary Clinton warned in an interview published on Thursday.

The former US presidential candidate was speaking to The Guardian about populism and the surge in support for right-wing politics when she made the comments, saying Europe needed to send a clear message that it would not "be able to continue to provide refuge and support — because if we don't deal with the migration issue, it will continue to roil the body politic."

Reaction from Europe

The comments drew criticism from parts of Europe, who said Clinton was simply giving in to the policies of the far-right.

"Migration didn't light the flame, Hillary Clinton, xenophobic populists did," Tanja Bueltmann, a professor specialising in diaspora and migration history at Northumbria University, wrote on Twitter.

"So giving into that populism, as you regrettably propose here, is exactly the opposite of what we should do. Nothing can ever be won by attempting to assuage the (far) right."

Bueltmann's sentiment was echoed by many other Europeans online. Maya Goodfellow, a PhD student on race and racism, said "more xenophobia to tackle xenophobic politics is a terrible, dangerous idea."

"Xenophobic, racist politics aren't just a natural reaction to migration, which is what people like Clinton claim," she added. "The problem is migration being framed as a threat, and, more often than not, they've played a significant role in creating and sustaining that narrative."

Migration figures

The European migrant crisis saw more than a million people flee persecution and make the journey to Europe by sea in 2015, according to the UN Refugee Agency. An additional 34,000 people crossed from Turkey by land.

However, figures released by the UN's Migration Agency earlier this year show that the number of people making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea has significantly dropped since then, with an estimated 172,000 people taking the route in 2017.

Despite a drop in these figures, Professor Bueltmann said the migration crisis was not one that would simply "go away," suggesting a more progressive approach.

"Climate change, the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities -- they all mean it will increase in the course of this century. This is what we need to address and only a progressive approach can be the way forward to do that."