The politics of fear is rampant in Europe. Scare-mongering from politicians emphasise the imminent “dangers” from immigrants. Politicians fuel the politics of hatred.
“I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: do not come to Europe.”
— EU president, Donald Tusk (March 2016)
“Europe can’t take anymore refugees”
–French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls (January 2016)
“We need to say to the [Arabs] that [this asylum] is a temporary residential status and we expect that….they go back to their country”
–German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (January 2016)
“A swarm….of [people = insects is] coming across the Mediterranean”
— British Prime Minister, David Cameron (July 2015)
“There must be protection of the external borders”
— French President, Francois Hollande (March 2016)
“[Migrants are bringing] parasites and disease [into Europe]”
— Polish Boss, Jaroslaw Kaczynski (October 2015)
“All the terrorists are basically migrants”
–Hungarian Prime Minister, Vicktor Orbán (November 2015)
“These [migrants] should be sent [back] to Turkey” Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann (February 2016)
“[Concentration] camps in Libya and a serious policy on repatriation [is needed]”
— Italian Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano (June 2015)
“There comes a time when you have to discuss…..whether to adjust [the Geneva Convention that protects the rights of refugees]”
— Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen (December 2015)
Refugees have nowhere else to run to but Europe as they flee from the destruction of their society. They believed in the illusion of European values of equality and freedom so often proclaimed by statesmen. But when they arrive the reception is one of hostility and racism. The reality is that most Europeans refuse to take responsibility for the foreign policies and the economic consequences of their ruling class. They blame the victim for their own predicament, not European military actions or the EU tariff walls. The media reinforces the scape-goating by reporting that it is the refugees own fault.
The truth, of course is that many of our fellow-workers are guilty. They believe the lies that Europe (and they) is innocent.
Although the above high-lights the inhumanity of ones fellow-workers, it has not all been such depressing news. Ever since Greece became the centre of Europe’s debt crisis after the global banking system imploded in 2008, local volunteer groups sprung up to help alleviate the suffering. Now, with a new crisis upon the country, similar networks are coming once again to the fore – only this time they are coming to the aid of helpless foreigners. The refugee crisis has really hit home in Greece.
Estimates has put the number of stranded migrants in Greece at nearly 50,000 but the real figure is probably higher. The Greek government has opened disused military camps at a rate of two a week for the past month, but roughly 1,000 new arrivals a day have swamped official capacity to provide housing, food and healthcare. It is left to volunteers to step in and fill the gaps left by the state. The ability of grassroots groups and volunteers to self-organise and distribute aid quickly and efficiently in their local areas has made them indispensable to efforts to feed and shelter migrants and refugees. They have taken over food and clothing distribution in many official camps where government and international NGOs lack sufficient manpower. For thousands of refugees in Greece, the work of the volunteers has made a miserable situation slightly more bearable.
O Topos Mou (‘My Place’), founded in the town of Katerini, is transforming itself from an organisation that distributes humanitarian aid locally to a group that is sourcing aid internationally to distribute nationally, launching successful appeals for medical supplies in France and Germany, distributing the donated medicines to Greek hospitals treating refugees.