Failure to find safe haven
Europe’s perpetual cycle of migrants and refugees is intensifying the on-going immigration debate, primarily on how it can be handled and managed. A copious number of migrants are coming in from the Middle East and Africa due to war, poverty, and many other contributing factors. But they face disappointment as many of them face abuse, both physically and emotionally, during their journey across the Mediterranean, and even when they land on the continent are still being rejected from entering certain countries.
Whilst some hard-line central and eastern European governments, such as Hungary and Poland, are pushing for tougher and stricter borders, others are still hopeful for a fairer distribution of new arrivals.
In a statement made by Red Cross secretary General Elhaj As Sy, he addressed the recent rejection which migrants received from Italy and Malta. Italy’s denial of a safe and accepting welcoming for the refugees led to an outcry over the laws of migration, whilst people in Valencia, where a rescue ship with over 600 individuals was diplomatically stranded, joined together and saw the vessel accepted.
“People are coming to Europe seeking values. European values, values of solidarity and support and welcoming and helping those in need. So, doing anything less than that is really a betrayal to Europe itself.” The statement made by As Sy was regarded as a true reflection of what is currently going on. As Spaniards joined together to cheer and help the refugees, refugee activist Anira Lappara told Aljazeera News that “Europe is trying to turn a blind eye but we want to respect the rights and offer them a home, our land is their land.”
This is a frequently occurring issue, with tens of thousands of migrants travelling weeks and enduring extreme hardships, only to be left with nothing but a return ship back home and promises of safer environments or holding camps. French President Emmanuel Macron is an embodiment of false promises and hopes. Last year he backtracked after suggesting Libya was, in fact, a safe country for returns and he was in the process of planning camps there as well as in Chad and Niger. However, the people of Libya are still suffering from the recent trauma of the slave trade, poverty and the turmoil from the Arab Springs in 2011.
Steve, a Congolese born and bred who currently lives in the United Kingdom stated that “These people do not understand what goes on in Africa. The desperation you must be in order to flee your homeland with nothing but shoes and clothing. Setting up these camps where we may endure abuse, endangerment and more, what good does it really do? They know what we will endure but as long as we stay in our “African soil” and not on there’s that’s all that matters.”
Will there be any change?
The rise in anti-immigration sentiments across the continent means many of these migrants will be rejected despite being in desperation and looking to the continent that gave the world the enlightenment for help.
They come from far and wide. Those from Syria are fleeing a country still gripped by civil war in which has no hope in ending. Many Syrians flee to neighbouring countries, but even in doing this they are left with barely anything to survive. Vast quantities live in these countries as refugees and are not permitted to work, a restriction which leads them into a deeper hole of poverty.
It is said that many of those who flee are at great personal risk if they stay in the country. A report published by Think Progress concluded that “Refugees are also at risk of religious persecution.” According to Amnesty International, people from Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Egypt have been “abducted, tortured, unlawfully killed and harassed because of their religion” in Libya, particularly by ISIS.
In Kasserine, Tunisia, where many of the migrants can be found, there is a long political frustration which has led to mass unrest. Furthermore, life in Tunisa is becoming harder as incomes and employment opportunities are no longer available. According to the 2014 census, unemployment in Tunisia runs at roughly 15% leaving many without a job and onto the route of sever poverty.