The Greek lesson to the Arabs and Europeans
Greece is again a laboratory. It was so this year after its government failed the Greek people and negotiated a third bailout to rescue European banks.
Now, Greece is again the victim of European and, in general, Western abhorrent foreign policies. The country is the largest recipient of immigrants that arrive daily to its islands.
The out-of-control inflow of African and Middle Eastern refugees provides two very different and eye opening realities.
On the positive side, the solidarity of ordinary people, bakers and fishermen on the islands. These are the same Greeks who are victims of excessive austerity installed by the Tsipras administration, but who, despite their difficult situation, manage to provide what they can to those running from war, famine and certain death.
On the negative side, there is only so much that the Greek can do, given their limited conditions.
During the political campaign, the issue of accepting or rejecting war refugees is a hot and sensitive one, and the current interim government does not intend to touch it. Officials have said that no one in this temporary government can or should define what will be done regarding the thousands of immigrants that arrive to Greece everyday.
But the Greek solidarity has a cost. The desperate exodus of thousands of people into the heart of Europe continues.
Some 30,000 immigrants or refugees remain blocked in several islands Greece waiting to make the leap to the continent in a climate of growing tension which has led to clashes with the police. In one of the latest confrontational episodes 6,000 people tried to get on a boat two days ago, even though the boat could only carry 2500.
In addition to the slow management of this migratory emergency one has to factor in the fact that some of the many migrants have begun to feel self-entitled. They have begun to ‘demand’ things that they think are theirs. Many have been heard cursing the Europeans and Europe, others have been caught chanting ‘we’ll get your wives’.
While the European authorities crawl to make a decision about what will be done with the immigrants, the Greek people have taken it upon themselves to make some of them feel more comfortable. The response from the European bureaucrats to ‘accept’ migrants seems to have been delayed as much as possible.
Western Interventionism at the Heart of the Crisis
The reality and consequences of war and western interventionism in Africa and the Middle East were already well-known. In 2014, the world recorded the highest number of forcibly displaced people, since the Second World War. There were nearly 60 million, according to the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Between 2013 and 2014 there was the largest annual increase on record: 8 million. Every day, 42,500 people were and continue to be forced to flee their homes because their lives are in danger.
Almost 200,000 people came to Europe in 2014 after embarking on dangerous journeys to cross the Mediterranean Sea. At least 3,500 died. More than half of those who made across the ocean, disembarked using the same routes as economic immigrants. News of shipwrecks barges have become a daily tragedy.
It is important to remember that the war in Syria -sponsored by Western intervention and complicity of Arab allies in the region- has meant that 7.6 million people have left their homes and another four million have fled the country.
A Crisis beyond Europe and the Middle East
The Middle East is at once the largest global generator and receiver of forcibly displaced people. The advance of the Islamic State has aggravated the situation in the region. The creation and use of terrorist groups -such as ISIS- by the United States, Israel and the bombing of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia has further aggravated the situation in a region that already had enough suffering due to religious conflicts.
But the refugee crisis is not limited to Syria. Conflicts bleed the continent. It extends to the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. These countries generate extremely high levels of forced displacement. Sub-Saharan Africa had 3.7 million refugees who fled the country in 2014, and another 11.4 million who were internally displaced.
The latest crisis in Southeast Asia has caused the Rohingya refugees to be systematically discriminated against by the Burmese authorities. Thousands of them choose to flee via the Andaman Sea in overcrowded boats in search for a new place to call home.
This refugee crisis is not something that the Greek people alone can solve. It cannot be solved by Europe, either. The solution is not to accept the migrants and to given them citizenship or free goodies. The solution to the global migrant crisis must include an immediate stop to western-sponsored wars and the reconstruction of whole regions and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. These refugees won’t stop coming as long as they know there is no hope for them at home, and as long as they know they will be given asylum in Europe and elsewhere. No amount of money or solidarity can stop a wave of refugees of such a magnitude.
It is estimated that over 700,000 people will submit their request for asylum until the end of this year and there are many hundreds of thousands more waiting to cross the ocean to hand in theirs.