top of page

Why is there a humanitarian crisis in Europe?

Migration isn't a new phenomenon - it has existed all around the world since the dawn of civilisation. The so-called "European refugee crisis" started making headlines in 2015, when more than one million displaced people from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Eritrea and more arrived in Europe. There are many reasons why people seek asylum abroad - from escaping war and persecution to simply wanting to provide a better future for their families. Their journeys to reach Europe are dangerous and often deadly. According to IOM reports, more than 23,000 people have gone missing in the Mediterranean alone since 2014. The EU's legal system quickly reached its capacity after the arrivals of 2015, with entry-point countries (like Greece, Turkey and Italy) bearing the brunt of the work. This is partly because of the Dublin Regulation. This EU law, adopted in 2003, states that the first country an asylum seeker arrives in is responsible for processing their claims. The law was implemented to deter displaced people from "asylum shopping", but has created many problems for entry-point member states. Their reception facilities continue to be overstretched, so asylum seekers are often forced to live in overcrowded camps with unsuitable living conditions and little to no indication of how long they would remain there. Other displaced people who weren't registered under the Dublin Regulation continue to move through the EU.

Why crisis

Why are grassroots organisations needed?

Grassroots humanitarian organisations provide essential services to asylum seekers and refugees, which the EU and local governments are unable or unwilling to offer. These services include: - Food and non-food item distribution including winter clothing and hygiene products - Child and adult education Integration and community building activities - Medical, legal and psychosocial support Despite their crucial contributions, grassroots organisations remain terribly underfunded. Most depend on donations and project-based grants to keep their operations running. As funds remain scarce, they are deeply reliant on volunteers such as yourself.

Why grassroots

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.
What's the difference?

Our partners and volunteers support displaced people including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. All these terms relate to people who are on the move, forced out of their home countries because it was too dangerous or difficult to stay and crossed international borders. 

Despite this overarching definition, there are legal differences between the three definitions.


Someone who had to flee their country of origin because of a well-founded fear of persecution, conflict, violence or other human rights violations. Refugees have a right to international protection because of the great risks to their life and safety that their home government can’t or won’t protect them from.

Additional resources to explore

“An independent Network of NGOs and associations mainly based in the Balkan regions and in Greece, who monitors human rights violations at the external borders of the European Union and advocates to stop the violence exerted against people on the move.”

Set up in the wake of the misnamed “European refugee crisis”, the MRG seeks to develop a better understanding of, and changing the often negative narrative surrounding, migration in Europe and beyond. The Group’s projects include research, training, advocacy, policy advice and artistic practice.”

“The New Humanitarian puts quality, independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world. We report from the heart of conflicts and disasters to inform prevention and response.”

“Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.”

“A news and information site for migrants to counter misinformation at every point of their journey: in their country of origin, along the route, or in the places where they hope to start a new life. InfoMigrants is available in five languages: French, Arabic, English, Dari and Pashto.”

“The overall aim of the newspaper, as also that of the “Radio Dandelion” podcasts, is to empower the social integration of adolescent and young refugees and fight xenophobia. All articles and podcasts are solely produced by teenage and young migrants, refugees and Greeks.”

“We’re a creative platform, published in English, Arabic and Farsi, raising the voices of migrants, volunteers & activists.”

03 Core Humanitarian Principles
04 Resources to Become a Responsible Volunteer
bottom of page