Where leaders fail, we can succeed
We’ve all seen the images of dead children floating in the sea and been affected by them. But it wasn’t until I came to Budapest in September that I really understood how desperate the situation is. It was there that I saw pregnant women that had crossed nine countries to escape to the West, only to give birth in Budapest train stations. In fact it’s the very same stations from which trains were sent to Dachau and Auschwitz that are once again full of terrified refugees, with no idea where they are to be sent. But they fear they too will be sent to camps, and they are probably right.
I will never be the same person I was before I saw this with my own eyes. Nobody that saw this could ever be the same again.
If these precious lives had depended on our “leaders” then many more would be dead by now, but we instead have been doing what our governments should have done. And we must continue to do so, as there will be more refugees to come, and they will all need our help, both in the short-term and the long.
“Solutions” that solve nothing
Through social media, local humanitarian and semi non-profit groups have been keeping the refugees alive, and this is wonderful, but not sustainable in the long-term. It’s impossible for every refugee to come to Europe. We have to think about better solutions.
NGOs are not the solution. They will swallow the money raised simply to run their own bureaucratic corporate systems. These organizations are already running on extremely low funds and have huge financial issues of their own. The UN’s humanitarian agencies are on the verge of bankruptcy, and the scale of the refugee crisis means their needs can’t possibly be met.
Nor can we wait for the international community to act. Leaders simply point the finger at each other, blaming the other for lack of action while the situation worsens in the background.
Certainly, spending millions on fences, strengthening the naval presence in the Mediterranean, playing with the Schengen rules, ignoring human rights and attempting to send refugees back to their destroyed homes is truly no solution at all – neither morally or economically. When the EU’s naval force – EU NAVFOR Med – sends its ships to fight people smugglers, the catastrophe will only deepen. Destroying boats and fuel depots on the Libyan coast raises the risk of causalities, as the smugglers may use the refugees as human shields. Not to mention the likelihood of armed groups like Islamic State and its affiliates attacking the EU naval force. And that’s without even considering the huge financial cost of deploying these resources, and even then the smugglers will still land on the coasts of Southern Europe.
This lack of leadership, structure and constant disagreement between nations creates a context in which smugglers and traffickers thrive instead of being punished, and the innocent refugees continue to suffer. Every day the delayed action costs more lives.
Short-term, urgent solutions
As a first step, urgent financial aid is needed for Greece, via Serbia, via Hungary. The solution is to raise vast sums of money, controlled by one party, avoiding huge NGOs, and avoiding collecting money via small crowd funds or multiple smaller social media groups, without structure and without knowing where, or what, or where the money would go. This type of help makes very little difference ultimately. The solution is to work with local trusted humanitarian activist groups on the ground, injecting money where it is needed precisely and directly.
Hungary, Greece and Italy (as well as all Sothern European countries) are crumbling economically within the EU already, and are battling with refugees. These countries have very poor governance structure, and need help from Germany and the Scandinavian armed forces. EU NAVFOR and NATO should be utilized to help take charge of these local incompetent authorities, which are constantly abusing simple human rights. All naval and armed forces should be allocated within the EU from Sweden, Germany, and furthermore from the US and Australia, Canada, etc, to southern European countries to HELP refugees to cross the sea safely, and keep the smugglers and traffickers at bay. And in addition, action should be taken to build temporary shelters and navigate the flow of refugees across Europe, respecting human rights and international law.
Refugees should be split up, transferred and organized strategically to each and every European, North and South American country, and even to Australia and New Zealand depending on the country’s population/ head – GDP ratio instead of the Dublin regulations. We simply can’t expect Germany and Sweden to take the majority of the refugees within the EU. It’s impossible. The United States resettled a mere 36 Syrian refugees in 2013. As of February 2014, the US has resettled only 25 more. That’s a total of 121 since 2011, out of over 4 million refugees. Aren’t these numbers shocking? The US, and the UK are willing to take in a few thousand more refugees by 2017 apparently. Yet Iceland and the Icelandic people managed by their own will, through the help of social media, to house 10.000 Syrian refugees.
Normal people do the jobs of governments on a constant basis, raising a fundamental question. What is the point of having these governments who are damaging our society, our future and our planet? What is the point of them when they are causing wars, millions of people to suffer and our environmental and economical collapse, leading us to a hopeless dystopian society?
The most constructive way forward is to simply put all these billions of Euros and Dollars into developing new energy resources, slowly rebuilding the economies of these destroyed homelands that the millions of refugees are fleeing. We must slow down and stop climate change, and end terrorism and war.
It may sound like fantasy. But if we are truthful with ourselves, the solutions are very achievable. Right now those who pull the strings and claim to be super powers have their hands on the majority of the oil sources, and are able to sell warfare to extremist rebelling religious groups. But they will lose their power by 2060 when there won’t be any natural oil to dig up from ground and fight over.
Do we want to wait until we get to that devastating stage, and have been hit by multiple environmental catastrophes, a never-ending refugee crisis, and watched multiple European economies collapse one by one? Do we? Is this our legacy for our children? A planet where fighting to stay alive will be a daily issue? Or do we want ‘to live in countries powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.’
IT’S OUR CHOICE, IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY.