Who better placed to discuss this than Catherine Woollard, the Secretary General of the European Council of Refugees and Exiles? The ECRE is an alliance of 96 NGOs across Europe that works toward advancing as well as protecting the rights of refugees and those seeking asylum or displaced. Before heading the ECRE, Woollard previously headed the Brussels office of Independent Diplomat, as well as serving as the Executive Director of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) for six years from 2008 to 2014. EPLO is network for non-profits that works on conflict prevention and peacebuilding based out of Brussels. She has also worked with governments on anti-corruption, governance reform, done extensive research on the EU, the UK Civil Service and international politics which she has regularly spoken about publicly.
On Friday the 1st of March Secretary General of the European Council on refugees and exiles Catherine Woollard addressed the students of St Andrews and discussed the recent developments on the issue of asylum and migration in Europe. She at first spoke about the issue of migration. She explained how within 2005 alone, a million people had arrived in Europe mainly from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.
Catherine also spoke about the rise of extremist populist parties In Europe and how a coalition by the parties opposed to the populists with the extremist populist parties itself posed a grave threat to Europe. She highlighted how Europe was politically divided and that immigration was a factor which exposed the divide and termed the present crisis as a “A North-South conflict’. She concluded with a note on how the migration crisis has changed the European Foreign Policy.