Refugee, migrant, or asylum seeker crisis?
In recent years, the precarious and unstable situation in the Middle East has pushed many to flee their countries and seek refuge in neighboring countries and in Europe. In April 2015, when five boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea, killing more than 1,200 people, the phrases "European migrant crisis" and "European refugee crisis" became widely used by media and politicians alike. Such phrases, serve as frames that alter perceptions and perhaps even influence behaviors. While “refugee” portrays people fleeing armed conflict or persecution, “migrant” describes people who make a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere. These dichotomized characterizations can have serious consequences for the lives and safety of asylum seekers, they can undermine public support, steer public opinion, and frame the debate on how the world should react to this crisis.