Imagining and experiencing the 'refugee crisis' (IMEX)


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The Refugee crisis - media coverage over time

The socalled "refugee crisis" developed during 2015 and led to the largest number of people seeking refuge in Europe in a very long time. The media coverage increased even more than the number of refugees, and matters relating to refugees, immigration and integration rose to become the biggest and most controversial questions in both Norwegian and European politics.

Developments in new asylum applications to EU countries, 2010-2015 (Data: Eurostat)
Developments in new asylum applications to EU countries, 2010-2015 (Data: Eurostat)

One can argue whether the refugee crisis is the story of an announced disaster or if it came as a surprise to decision-makers. The number of asylum seekers coming to Europe accelerated during 2015 and reached an extent that not only made it one of the largest refugee crises in Europe for a long time, but also put politicians, the receiving apparatus and eventually the entire system for handling refugees in Europe in contention. Disagreements between countries regarding the handling of refugees has led to the borders in Europe being guarded and controlled again, reversing decades of removing obstacles to free movement. The situation in Syria and the congested neighboring areas led to an increasing number of people embarking on a perilous journey across the Mediterranean, ending up in different countries in Europe. Refugees from other countries also traveled through different routes to seek asylum in Europe, which led to sometimes chaotic conditions in the countries that expressed some willingness to receive refugees.


In Norway, the large increase of asylum seekers from Syria as well as other countries, became a controversial political topic. Discussions concerning  the conditions for asylum seekers, how to process applications and applicants, as well as questions about the creations of new reception centers in a number of locations were controversial questions.


The increase in media coverage is massive. From a normal level where such issues traditionally have been among those who get a lot of attention in the media, coverage exploded as the situation developed, and by the end of 2015, this was one of the hottest topics, not only for politicians, but for participants in the public debate.