There is much being written about the refugee crisis in Europe at the moment but none of what I have read explains why the problem is occurring and what will need to be done for the problem to be addressed.
Refugees are just one symptom of a deeper crisis. Moreover, like other symptoms of this deeper crisis, the global elite is happy to use this symptom to keep us utterly preoccupied; after all, the immediacy of the refugee problem is all too demanding of our attention and our compassion.
Thirty years ago, on 9 September 1985, I tried to resuscitate a baby in the Shagarab East 3 Refugee Camp in Eastern Sudan at the height of the Ethiopian war and famine. As a lifesaver, I had been expertly trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. My attempt to resuscitate this child failed: the doctor advised me that the baby was dead and I watched her mother as I handed the dead child back to her. The mother was, understandably, utterly distraught. And, frankly, I was in considerable emotional pain myself.
In the adjacent camp, where I worked as a relief worker, five refugees died every day, mostly from simple illnesses, like diarhoea, associated with malnutrition. In the jargon of the UNHCR, our death rate was 2.5 per 10,000 per day. That meant, in our camp of 20,000, five people died each day. Every day.
My time spent working in that camp and visiting many others during the same period, taught me one thing: ultimately, while support for refugees is necessary for the survival of some of the individuals forced to flee their countries and homes, this will not stop the creation of circumstances which generate refugees in the first place.
At the geopolitical level, Thalif Deen has adequately summarised the major cause of the current ‘refugee problem’ in Europe:
‘The military conflicts and political instability driving hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe were triggered largely by U.S. and Western military interventions for regime change specifically in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria (a regime change in-the-making).
‘The United States was provided with strong military support by countries such as Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, while the no-fly zone to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was led by France and the UK in 2011 and aided by Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Canada, among others.’ See ‘Europe Invaded Mostly by “Regime Change”
Of course, there are other reasons why people become refugees. But war and the destructive environmental consequences of human industrial and other activities (leading to ‘climate catastrophe’ refugees) are primary drivers of the problem. Or are they?
When I read the news on progressive news websites, I have no problem identifying the multitude of problems we face: war itself, economic exploitation of the people in Africa, Asia and Central/South America, environmental problems too numerous to list and violence against women and children, indigenous peoples, working people, people of color and various other social groups (depending on the society) to mention some of the main ones. And these problems are so advanced that humans stand poised on the brink of precipitating our own extinction.
Except it is not us, as a collective, who is responsible for this catastrophic state of affairs. It is a relatively small number of people, each of whom is quite insane. And it is these people who drive the decisions being made in our world that have, for example, created the current refugee crisis in Europe.
These people seek power, profit and personal privilege at the expense of the rest of us. They decide to destroy countries or regions because, in their insane worldview, it ‘benefits’ them to do so. The military destruction of a region might give them the power to share in the control of a resource or market. It might make them a profit. It might privilege them in relation to others in their (very limited) social world. The discourse in which these people are engaged is incredibly limited. It is always about control.
And the reason for this is simple: They are utterly terrified. They had all of their control taken from them as children and now seek it endlessly as highly dysfunctionalised adults. Adults who are insane: devoid of the love, compassion, empathy and sympathy that makes those of us who are normal respond with genuine concern to the plight of refugees and others who suffer.
So when you hear people whether it be politicians, corporate figures, academics, military leaders or media personnel justify policies and actions, such as military violence, that lead to greater human suffering, remember that you are listening to someone who is seriously psychologically damaged. Conflict is not always easily resolved but it requires listening and understanding, as well as talking. You cannot resolve conflict by killing people.
Robert J. Burrowes
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