So it was
World Refugee Day a few days ago.
|Screen Shot from Instagram - |
I did not even know that so many emojis exist for people's faces...
total of 68,5 million people are ‘registered refugees’. That is more than the
total population of Great Britain.
|Screen Shot from Instagram|
twice the population of California, or Canada. Or the population of the area
that used to be “West Germany” only a little more than 25 years ago.
If we take
into consideration that almost the entire population of the United States is descended
from migrants (except that they were called ‘immigrants’ back then), and the
fact that migration has been a common habit in human history, that shaped the
world (otherwise we would still all be in Africa), it is not understandable
that we are reacting to people on the move today in the way that we have been
recently. Only a very limited part of the (im)migrants that came to the US came
for political or religious reasons, the causes that nowadays make a ‘good’
refugee, eligible for political asylum. They were virtually all of them on the
search for a better life due to the economic circumstances back home.
believes it has a ‘homogenous’ population. Not true. A fifth of the population
has a ‘migratory background’. Not to mention the fact that even in historic times quite a bit of movement went on between the tribes of Europe... My grandfather fled from Eastern Germany by
swimming through a river to get across the border, and my grandmother and two
of her daughters were allowed to follow after a few months later in what was
called ‘family reunification’ back then, and what many German politicians do
not want to allow for refugees with a certain kind of refugee status. Of
course, he was labelled a ‘good’, i.e. political refugee because he was fleeing
from political oppression by the bad communists. And it was the Fifties. And he
was a German fleeing to Germany.
But that doesn’t really make it a different
situation to young Afghans today, who come to Germany in search of a safe life
without Taliban interference, and who would like to have their families join
them in their new place. But because the German government has decided that
Afghanistan is a ‘safe’ country (ignoring the fact that people get blown up in
the street all the time, how safe an environment is that…?) and they should not
be fleeing that country to begin with, we won’t let them have their family with
How come we
are making a difference in refugee status anyway, why do we have to
differenciate between a political refugee and an economic refugee? Yes, a war
is a terrible reason for having to leave home, nobody should have to endure
that. But economic reasons are equally terrible, not any less valid, and
certainly ‘political refugees’ aren’t a better kind of refugees than ‘economic
refugees’. Which is the current state of politics in European countries.
Because we have to face it: both, the wars and the economic conditions that
people are fleeing from, were heavily influenced or created by Western politics
and economic dealings. The affluent societies are responsible for the chaos that
is characterizing the world situation today. And we cannot refuse to take that
responsibility by building walls to keep people out of our countries, or by not
allowing boats which have taken refugees on board in the Mediterranean entry to
a safe port.
Day. When are the affluent societies going to understand that we need to make
every day a World Responsibility Day? That we have to create living conditions
around the world so that nobody would want to leave their country? It is our
economic and political system that has caused all this trouble. We are
exporting weapons, and then we are surprised that these weapons are used for
wars, and that people who live in areas where wars are happening don’t want to
stay there. We are exploiting and changing agricultural systems for our
economic benefit and then we are surprised that people starve because their
harvests are failing. We are supporting corrupt political leaders who will
eagerly allow our economic systems to obtain cheap resources (and divert a good
amount of the profits into their own pocket) and then we are surprised that
young people who are fed up with being deprived of chances in their own
countries are taking to the road, the rubber boat, and want their share of
livelihood in our countries.
As I am spending these few days on a remote
island, currently storm bound and uncertain whether the ferries will resume
service by tomorrow when we are scheduled to leave these thoughts keep
circulating in my head.
The past few years and my involvement with refugees have
shown and taught me so much that has enriched my life in terms of friendships,
understanding, intensity of living. But German politicians are squabbling about
these issues of refugee-crisis-management in a manner that one wonders
regarding their sanity of mind. The treatment of migrant families on the
US-Mexican border, and the continuing demands for construction of a wall by the
American administration is appalling. We have only one world to live in. And
there are many other people besides us, the rich ones. Their rights are equal
to ours, that is something we have declared, and there was a time when we were
proud to have arrived at such a declaration. We must finally begin to fill it
with life. Every Day is World Responsibility Day.