11 March 2016

Idomeni is a small village in Greece close to the border with Macedonia. At the moment, about 13,000 people, mainly Syrians and many of them women and children are stranded there since Macedonia has closed the border. They are stranded in the rain and mud with only very basic support from NGOs, individuals and a pretty helpless UNHCR. 

Menawhile, European politicians have decided that the seemingly never ending streams and constant images of people fleeing war and poverty has a negative effect on their powerful positions. People in Europe, they say, are sick and tired of seeing all this misery. Not our fault, they say. Don't come, they say. Turn back, they say. We don't want to share our wealth with you. We don't want you to mess up our good life. We don't want to help you. We had enough, we are shutting the doors.

So they are working on a clever deal with Turkey, which will involve shipping contingencies of desperate people back and forth like containers loads on heavy goods trains. 
This is the same European Union that was awarded the Nobel peace prize, btw.

Idomeni is another word for shame.

Just two images from today's papers:


  1. I know. It is hard to bear.

  2. I honestly don't know what the solution is. On one hand, it's immoral to send people back into conflict. On the other, I think immigration needs to be more orderly and structured than this flow of humanity has been. It doesn't seem entirely reasonable to expect Europe to absorb ALL these immigrants, who just keep coming and are likely to continue to do so until virtually everyone has left Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Where is the United States? Where are the other wealthy nations of the world? The UNHCR can issue all the critical reports it wants, but at the same time, the nations that support the UN need to step up en masse and distribute these refugees among them in a way that's fair both for the dispossessed and the receiving countries.

  3. This is how tragedy unfolds before our eyes.

  4. I am in awe of the faith of the refugees and of those who are in a position to actively help, against all odds. I can see that faith in these moving photos. The trust and faith of children. All we can do is all we can do, with an emphasis on "We." Not alone. I am remembering the years when the boat people came from Southeast Asia. What I could do was be a teacher's aide in a local English as a Second (or
    Third or More) Language class. Not sure what I can do now, but I know there is something I can do, and that it will be revealed.

  5. i am so moved by these parents, caring for their children, sheltering them, even as they themselves have no shelter.

  6. My heart is breaking. What the hell is wrong with us?

  7. Like a punch in the gut.

  8. For some reason if our leaders get it into their heads to bomb a country price is no object. However, when people run away from conflict all of sudden the situation is "complicated". People, in my book, often use the terms "complicated" and "not simple" for situations in which they (a) want to appear to be "nice" but (b) don't want to face up to their moral obligations. If only holding out a hand to people could be considered as "simple" as bombing their countries.

    I was most impressed with this, from The Guardian newspaper: