Our Readers' Opinions
September 25, 2015
Europe’s refugee crisis is a humanitarian crisis

Editor: As if the enormous economic problems confronting Europe were not enough, that continent is currently facing a massive social and humanitarian crisis which worsens by the day. It is referred to in the media as “the migrant crisis” and is manifested in hundreds of thousands of persons of all ages and stages, flooding into Europe seeking asylum.{{more}}

However “migrant crisis” masks the true nature of the problem, which is really a humanitarian one involving refugees, over 480,000 thus far, seeking shelter, security and succour for themselves and their families. The graphic pictures we see each day via the media, reveal the scale and depth of the crisis.

It has its roots in the wars which plague the Middle East and North Africa and which have wrought havoc, death and destruction, whether in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. Europe borders

both the Middle East and Africa, so the journeys of the refugees are partly destined by geography, though not by geography alone.

Europe also shares political and moral responsibility, as a partner of the United States of America, for the carnage and horror from which those people are fleeing. In particular, the armed forces of Britain, and others to a lesser extent, have accompanied US armed incursions into those war-ridden areas. One may differ as to whether such intervention was justified, but it cannot be denied that there are external factors in the wars.

The results of those wars have underlined Singing Sandra’s immortal words that “Nobody wins a war”. Thousands have lost their lives; millions have been uprooted from home; families have been torn apart; and the “security” sought is no closer to attainment. But those are political arguments. The reality is the misery of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, the indignity they face daily and the inhumanity of it all.

Whether Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi or Libyan, they are all HUMAN BEINGS and must be treated as such. They are not numbers which can be juggled into categories as “economic”, “political” and so on. They are suffering enormously, young children and infants in particular. They need help, comfort, shelter and above all, LOVE.

It is heartening that Germany, the instigator of two World Wars, which themselves caused untold suffering, leads the way in trying to provide succour for the unfortunate people. But very disturbing has been the responses, the inhumanity and even brutality inflicted on these unfortunate people by some in Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. These are countries which have experienced the horrors of millions forced to flee and welcomed all over the world. Have they forgotten?

In desperation, the European Union is trying to impose a compulsory quota system, forcing all members to accept some of the refugees. But succour cannot be forced; it must be genuine. Can you imagine being forced to live with a family which does not want or welcome you? Where is the humanity in these societies? Where is the Christianity?

At the same time some of the refugees are not helping their own cause by picking and choosing where they want to go. If you are in such deep trouble, you are not in a position to pick the best scenario. If such choices were exercised, then the USA and the United Kingdom should accept the largest number. Their bombs, planes and troops share responsibility, along with Assad, the Taliban and Isis, for this dreadful situation.

Finally, locally, let us not play politics with the misery of people. Already, based on statements from the PM, there has been some backlash against Syrian refugees. That, to my mind, is not the right approach. If we feel that such a helping hand should be extended to other unfortunate refugees, whether from Haiti, Somalia or wherever, by all means add them to the list; don’t take it out on Syrian refugees. We never know what fate may befall us. This is a human tragedy; it demands a human response.

Renwick Rose