Intended for healthcare professionals


Europe’s refugee crisis: an urgent call for moral leadership

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 09 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4833
  1. Kamran Abbasi, international editor, The BMJ,
  2. Kiran Patel, consultant cardiologist, Heart of England NHS Trust,
  3. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, The BMJ
  1. Correspondence to K Abbasi kabbasi{at}

Offering asylum is a minimum standard of civilised society

Europe’s refugee crisis is the greatest test of humanity faced by the world’s rich countries this century. It isn’t a new crisis. Nor was it difficult for politicians to anticipate. Refugees have fled to Europe since at least the premature optimism of the Arab Spring in 2011. Today, optimism is replaced by desperation, a promise of freedom overshadowed by death. Western nations rushed to support the democratic principles of the Arab Spring yet are reluctant to address the root causes and the consequences, which include civil war and state brutality, most notably in Syria. Oil rich Arab States have played their part by allowing political oppression and conflict to flourish in their region. A funding crisis in UN organisations is affecting the humanitarian effort in the Middle East, driving refugees to Europe in greater numbers.1 Ignoring injustice and inequity in poorer countries and in areas of conflict has not prevented the consequences reaching the shores and borders of the rich world.

Over 300 000 refugees and migrants have …

View Full Text