Conversations Without Borders: Europe’s Migrant Crisis


The Yale World Fellows held its second “Conversations Without Borders” March 3 in Madrid.

Four Yale World Fellows gathered at the headquarters of Banco Santander in Madrid, Spain, to lead a discussion on the challenges and impact of the massive wave of migrants pouring into Europe from the Middle East each day.

Panelists included Mina Al-Oraibi YWF ’15, an Iraqi-British journalist who has covered the conflict for many years, Mohamed Baba YWF ’06, political secretary for the ruling part in Amsterdam, Mohamed Elfayoumy YWF ’13, an Egyptian diplomat and political advisor to the UN Special Envoy to Syria, and Martina Larkin YWF ’11 of the World Economic Forum. Emma Sky, the director of the Yale World Fellows and a Middle East expert, served as moderator.

Each panelist offered their perspective on the crisis and then fielded questions from the audience.

Elfayoumy emphasized the importance of supporting the de-escalation of hostilities, helping push for political solutions, and seeing migrants as people. “This will continue. Migrants see this as their legitimate right to pursue their individual future and their families’ future,” he said.

Al-Oraibi underscored the importance of streamlining the processing of migrants into host countries, thereby disabling the illegal routes and smuggling.

Baba challenged the audience to consider the crisis from a different perspective: what potential migrants offer instead of what trouble they bring.

Larkin was asked to address how the crisis could impact policy and European stability. “There are huge dilemmas and problems faced by some of these nations,” she said. “The migration crisis will fundamentally change Europe and the E.U.”

In closing, Sky offered a broad view on the crisis: “It’s really fate where you’re born. We must constantly remind ourselves of this common sense of humanity. Refugees are people like ourselves with dreams and aspirations.”