Articles, Non-Fiction


Does the dole really drive someone to cross the mediterranean in a tiny boat, as the right-wingers suggest? Would you do it? Leave your job, home, life, get on a small boat, bound for another country in the hopes of not working and receiving benefits? It’s just more logical to assume that the motivation isn’t economic, as the right-wing rhetoric implies, but out of necessity as every humanitarian group involved has agreed.

The critics also ask why these uppity refugees want to move from where they’ve landed to other countries. Would you stay in a country where you aren’t welcome? Even if it meant you might be stuck in an unknown land illegally? Or worse, be sent back to the war zone? If I were in that situation I would look to go to a country that would be more likely to accept my application and is more welcoming to asylum seekers in general. It is simply common sense for an asylum seeker to look to go to somewhere like Germany, who approve more asylum applications than anyone else. It ignores the many who are settling in other countries, and instead looks to again paint the refugees as sponges. These people were not calling them sponges in 2012 of course, they probably didn’t even know they existed in 2012. They only got interested in global politics when they felt that they might be losing something to the refugees.

“Why are we not giving the money to the homeless, the hungry?” they cry, having suddenly developed a heart for people they most likely didn’t acknowledge until, again, they felt that they might be losing something to the refugees. Lets set aside the fact that this ignores the €19.519.077,00 we received as part of the AMIF, and approx 1m we received as part of the ERF this year alone; if we gave those funds to the homeless, these same people would simply cry out that it should have been put into education, or the water services, or some other place. And, if they are seriously suggesting we appropriate EU funds for our own needs — Since when are we allowed to do what we want with Refugee and Asylum seeker grants? Wouldn’t we then be breaking the law?

As we all know the refugees are all young men intent on causing trouble right? Wrong. According to the UNHCR, about 40% of the refugees are under 11 years old, and the gender split is very close to equal. Images and videos are easy to take out of context and twist, for either left wing or right wing views on this. It’s easy to get a group video of a load of young men, because groups of young men band together, like anywhere else in the world. It is as easy to take a photo that implies that 100% of the people arriving or dying are children.

In a huge group of people you will see crime. In a huge group of ruined, hungry, tired people I would expect to see even more crime. Expecting people to be saints ignores their humanity. It’s a testament to the fact that most are just regular people trying to survive that we haven’t seen more incidents. Either way, refusing to process them and shipping them off on trains, destination unknown, definitely doesn’t solve anything; it just moves the problem elsewhere. There will always be media manipulation from the right and the left, but the cold hard facts are that they’re coming, and they need to be dealt with in accordance with EU law.

Concerns are normal given the severity of the situation, and this is a crisis for all involved, make no mistake.  Yes, in a huge group we are going to get people who we don’t like, for whatever reason, but we still can’t turn our backs on that 40% under 11. There is a gaping chasm between “concerns” and “hatred”, with a certain class of person using the former to justify the latter. Have you noticed a tendency among people to categorise refugees and asylum seekers as migrants recently? All migrants are migrants of course, but it is a very handy rhetorical device designed to diminish the plight of suffering people.

The people who know most about this, like humanitarian groups who are involved, are calling it the biggest humanitarian crisis of the century so far. They are begging countries to take in refugees. I don’t think they’re doing it for the laugh. Maybe it is all some huge conspiracy, and the far right are correct, but I didn’t think it was for Darfur, or Ethiopia or any other crisis for that matter. I think history sides with giving refugees the benefit of the doubt.

Statements are uttered like “Arab countries should take them”, “‘many’ or ‘a lot’ of them are terrorists”, “Cowards! Why aren’t they fighting for their country?” and “why don’t they go back” or the more hilarious variant (given the complete ignorance it betrays) “why can’t they make them stay in their own country?” — These show a complete lack of understanding of both war in general, and the current situation in Syria, and the Middle East. They are also ignoring of course, the many millions of refugees currently in the middle east. Shh, don’t tell them, let them keep ranting on about the failures of other countries while doing nothing themselves. Ah but they’re all fundamentalist ISIS loving terrorists right? Or at least that’s a threat? Have ISIS been known to send members via boat on the worlds most dangerous sea journey? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to fake documents and fly, as they have done in the past? Also, even if every single ISIS member decided to mix with the refugees, it would make them 40’000 out of 4’000’000, 0.1%. Slogans like “Keep Europe Christian” ignore the Christian refugees. Simplifying the demographics of a region with that many different ethnic groups and religions is a recipe for disaster.

I don’t think anyone would do the Libya to Italy, or Turkey to Greece boat ride for the dole. To my mind, the only people willing to make such a journey would be very desperate indeed. There is a common thread on both sides to diminish the humanity of the refugees, by either painting them all as saints or as potential terrorists. In reality they are human, some will make mistakes, some will cause trouble. This is the same of any population, but it’s still not an excuse to let people die. It doesn’t stop us helping refugees currently, and I don’t want it to stop us in the future.