Politicians in the West are caught in a reactive scramble to stem the tide of migration, focusing primarily on stopping illegal border crossings. While important, this narrow approach risks missing the bigger picture: the root causes driving people to leave their homes in the first place. Ignoring these underlying issues, warns author and columnist Hugo Dixon, will have costly consequences for the West.
From poverty and conflict to climate change, the factors pushing people to migrate are complex and interconnected. Focusing solely on border security creates a bandaid solution, treating the symptoms but not the disease.
Dixon argues that the West needs a broader, more proactive approach. This includes:
- Investing in development and stability in countries of origin. By tackling poverty, creating jobs, and fostering good governance, we can offer people alternatives to migration.
- Addressing the climate crisis, a key driver of displacement caused by drought, floods, and rising sea levels. This requires not just emissions reduction, but also adapting to the inevitable impacts.
- Working collaboratively with countries of transit and destination to create humane and efficient migration systems. This involves sharing responsibility, fostering partnerships, and upholding international refugee law.
Failing to act on these fronts will have serious repercussions. Not only will migration pressures likely increase, but the West’s moral standing will be tarnished. Additionally, neglecting potential talent and diversity could hinder economic growth and innovation.
Dixon highlights specific examples, such as the conflict in Syria leading to a mass exodus, or the drought in the Sahel displacing millions. He argues that ignoring these humanitarian crises not only creates suffering, but also breeds resentment and extremism, potentially fueling further instability and migration.
“The West cannot afford to be solely focused on walls and fences. We need to understand the reasons people are leaving their homes and work to address those root causes. Only then can we develop a sustainable and humane response to the migration challenge.”