Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos was ablaze. The camp was in lockdown, meaning no-one could leave, and, because European nations had ceased to admit refugees, the camp had far exceeded its capacity. Instead of the 3000 people for which it was built, it now housed over 13000 persons.
Following the agreement reached with Turkey four years ago, Europe has hitherto failed to reach a sustainable solution for the situation on the Mediterranean Sea and the islands. Following a lengthy debate, the government launched a proposal last week to bring 100 children and vulnerable people to the Netherlands earlier than planned. This number will be subtracted from the 500 intended to be sheltered next year. When taking into account the sheer number of refugees in Moria, and the circumstances in which they live, it is hard to see these 100 refugees as anything other than a symbolic number.
Meanwhile, boats full of refugees are towed beyond European waters
Structural solutions and support are two concepts frequently brought into discussions about refugees. On the first, I can be very brief: In terms of structural aid, the difference between doing nothing and sheltering 100 people, is non-existent. As for public support: last week, hundreds of people -among which I – protested in Utrecht and Amsterdam in favour of more relief for refugees. This is a crisis situation. Thousands of people have even less than they had, and that was barely anything, to begin with.
But, for politicians representing our country and Europe, it’s all far removed. They get away with the status quo and call that public support for the existing approach.
There must be ways to provide these people -men, women and children like you and I- with a future. In Brussels, it’s just political squabbling. Meanwhile, boats full of refugees are towed beyond European waters. Not allowed, but it happens nonetheless. There is no clear structural procedure for arriving refugees as a dissuasive measure. I hope this changes soon, and that we open our eyes for the desperate situation in which these people find themselves—without a future or hope, burning their ‘home’ out of sheer desperation in a plea for change.