When traveling is a matter of life or death…..
For us, residents of the first world, traveling is all about fun and personal growth… Unfortunately, for some, it’s a matter of life and death.
I’ve been following the latest news with a lot of sadness and revolt. Everyday, small boats bring hundreds of illegal, desperate immigrants to Europe. They’re trying to escape the violence and wars back in their home country. More than half of this small boats bring children and women, some of them pregnant.
Europe has been turning their back to this humanitarian emergency, until the amount of deaths in the Mediterranean could no longer be ignored.
Our beloved Mediterranean sea, the reasons why so many of us Europeans travel to the beautiful southern shores, to enjoy its calm and warm waters, became the mass grave of many.
There has been more deaths in the Mediterranean by desperate migrants than the deaths caused by the Titanic accident and according to the Telegraph, “the Mediterranean is now the world’s most dangerous border in the world“.
“The journey they make is the humanitarian equivalent of leaping across the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, facing a very real risk of death in the hope of a better life.” The guardian
I’ve been holding so many mixed feelings… A mix of deep sadness and revolt for the condition of our southern neighbors, who are paying the high price of the involvement of Europe and USA on their internal affairs. Yes, the situation was terrible when Gaddafi was keeping the country under oppression, but how is it better now?
On the other hand, I feel a mix of guilt and embarrassment for living a life, where traveling is a way of finding personal growth, inspiration and pure fun while others are risking their lives to cross a border in tiny boats.
While I play around on my PC, searching for the cheapest and most incredible adventures around the world, where I don’t even need a visa; my Syrian or Libyan neighbors are giving all their life savings to smugglers to escape war and being denied entrance. How can someone be a first class citizen and another a second class based on nationality?
But who are these immigrants crossing the Mediterranean?
Years of war, oppression and human rights abuses in countries like Syria, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia, are the main reason for the mass exodus across the Mediterranean.
The leading nationalities trying to escape their country are the Syrians and Libyans. Syria is now entering the 5th civil war. Eritreans are the third nationality trying to flee their country, that is under one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
Yemen, Mali and Gambia are among the other nationalities of people desperately trying to find a land where they can live in peace.
UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT SITUATION IN LIBYA
You might remember the horrendous video of 12 christian Ethiopian men being beheaded by masked members of the Islamic state and other 16 being shot in the head in the desert. Then another one came out where you could see the ISIS beheading 21 captive Egyptian Christians at a Libyan beach.
After the fall of Gaddafi, Libya was left without a central government or real border control, becoming a safe haven for all sorts of militias and terrorists. Women and children are being raped and used as sex slaves, while men are being murdered.
THE FEAR OF THE OUTSIDERS
As the “global research newspaper” states, WE the West are directly responsible for destabilizing north Africa: ” If the Libyan government were to lose control of the oilfields, it would disrupt the EU’s oil supply and raise prices at the pump. The US and EU’s decision to remove Muammar Gaddafi has created a terrorist haven in North Africa.”
Globalization, freedom to come and go seem to be a concept for us, white westerners. Or for commercial trade only. One thing is true: Europe is an aged continent that can’t even keep up with the social welfare system anymore. Europe needs to open its borders to immigration, to young families if it wants to survive and thrive.
Unlike the US, Europe’s recent history is “theoretically” not built by immigrants. Some of our borders, like the Portuguese one, have been stable since 1297, creating very closed societies who fear the outsiders.
I get it, people here in Europe are used to their old ways. There’s a certain hesitation to change. But sometimes, change is inevitable and urgent.
I strongly believe it’s time to open our borders, temporarily or permanently to some of our neighbors. This will not only relieve the humanitarian crisis at our door step, but will also help us save our declining economy and social welfare.
Maybe a system of quotas, similar to the one that exists in US is an urgent measure we need to adopt to welcome the refugees still in their home countries and allow them to come legally.
Our financial crisis followed by strong austerity measures, has been the fuel for the right-wing neo-nazi parties to attack and blame immigration. But when we look closer, the cities that have high numbers of immigrants – London, Paris, Barcelona, Zurich, NYC, LA, etc – are actually the richest ones in the world.
We can no longer pretend life is a fairy tale for everyone and traveling is all about fun…. For some, is a matter of life and death…. I think about this often, even though I don’t express it as much as I should.
ITS OUR DUTY TO HELP THEM FIX THE MESS THE WEST CREATED
Let’s not be naive and selfish to think: “this is their problem.” This is not THEIR problem, this is OUR problem! This is a humanitarian problem.
It’s very easy for some to say their heart breaks when they hear a few thousand more people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, but then, we go on with our lives and forget about it.
But what do you feel when images of dead children take over your facebook page and slap you in the face for the horrors these people are living?
It could be you or me. It could be your child. We could have been in that situation if we were born in one of the countries that have been so deeply destabilized by the west. These are the people that part of the “white middle class society” wants to keep out of Europe. These are the people that neo-nazi rally against.
Is this the world you want to live in?
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