Europe at a historical crossroad: The refugee challenge


Venue: Literair Salon, Muntpunt
Munt 6, 1000 Brussel
Time: 9 December 2015

More than 250.000 Syrians have lost their lives in a four and a half year of civil conflict, which started as a protest against the government turning into a fully armed civil war. More than 11 million people have been forced out of their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and oppositions fought each other, soon joined by conflicts with armed Islamist extremists. Half of the displaced population are made up of children. More than four million of these people have – or have tried to flee- to Europe through fatal routes. One of the most popular of these routes has been the Aegean Sea. Refugees are trying to pass on to Europe via Greece by dingy boats they buy in Turkey. Most have to leave their belongings behind before making this journey. In many cases the dingy boats are upturned by waves resulting in mortalities. Only this year 3,138 people have died while trying to cross the sea. Pictures of drowned children hitting the shores of the Mediterranean Sea have circulated in the mass media and social media. These images have caused outrage among European people, who have displayed acts of welcome toward the refugees. People have donated and collected charity, and even opened their homes to refugees. More than 700.000 people are estimated to have reached Europe by crossing the sea this year and the numbers are not expected to drop. According to the United Nations, if war conditions continue as they are the number of refugees is seen to escalate in the near future. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. 

Considering the refugee influx to Europe will not decrease soon, we will discuss the potential social, political and economic outcomes of accepting refugees to Europe and their naturalization as citizens. On this subject we are pleased to be hosting Bleri Leshi to give his insights on the issue and have a fruitful and interactive discussion.

Please kindly register via to reserve your spot in the discussion.


Bleri Lleshi is philosopher, documentary filmmaker and activist. He studied political sciences and philosophy at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. At the moment he is writing a ph.d on the struggle of the excluded. Lleshi is guest professor at Artesis Hogeschool where he teaches philosophy and economy. He published Identiteit en interculturaliteit. Identiteitsconstructie bij jongeren in Brussel, VUBPress (2010). In 2013 he published Brieven hit Brussel/ Lettres de Bruxelles. In 2014 he published De neoliberale strafstaat. A book which is well received by critics. Lleshi is also a documentary maker. He directed Bxl stad zonder eigenaar (Belgium, 2009); Belgicains (Belgium, 2010), Parcours Inspirants (2011), Protestation pour la vie (2012) and Balkan Melange (2012). Lleshi is writing columns and reviews for various newspapers and websites, such as Knack and De Morgen (in Dutch) and The Brussels Time Magazine and EUobserver (in English).