If a refugee sets foot in Europe, we can safely assume that he's had a hell of a journey. It really does not matter what the exact reason for his get-away was. Bombs, being gay or having a critical opinion in an oppressing regime, being unable to make a living, are all existential threats, enough to flee away from the place one is used to. We must realise that no one would easily leave his friends and family, house or the land where people speak your native language, cook familiar food and find all that you grew up with. Someone who takes this enormous leap has a solid reason.
True, some could have survived over there and are lured here by fantasies about easy and valuable euros to transfer back home. It must be the worst disillusion of your life, being the chosen financial soldier, sent on a lonely and impossible battle. And even before realising the European dream is in fact an illusion, also these economic refugees went through hell.
All the people making their journey towards Europe did so by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Except the fortunate ones who somehow entered by plane, - the official immigrants - crossing the border with sufficient paperwork, most of them had to cross many borders and pay so-called ‘guides’, or human smugglers, to take them from one stop to the next. If this driver would have them pay extra all of a sudden, the power was all his, so the refugees needed to cough up extra money. Already they 'd find the little money they carry in their safely held money belt disappear. If the driver had them wait in a ‘safe house’ they would be left with no clear plan, just a vague promise, to this guy no one knew for sure he would actually return.
On the way towards the coast of Northern Africa on the move can sometimes take a bus, but parts of their journey consists of walking through the mountains, without food, charged phones, with worn out shoes, sometimes even children. Some of them travel in groups with other refugees but strangers, speaking in other languages, not knowing who to trust, who to like, who’s going to rob you or help you out. I can imagine exhaustion gets the better of you, while being scared all the time.
If they would finally reach the coast, most would get on one of those boats that sometimes reach the news. Imagine a boat trip like that (how many hours, or days?), with no roof, exposed to sun, storm or rain. Again, some of them with children or babies.
It makes me cry watching this scene from The Handmaid's Tale. Here Emily and the baby she’s carrying, arrive in Canada, fleeing from a dystopian place in America. The hospital staff looks at her with the respect every refugee needs and deserves. Literally, the doctor welcomes Emily, saying:
“You're safe now. And we're very glad you're here. We can only imagine what you've been through. So the first thing we're going to do is we're going to make sure that the both of you are healthy.”
After that the entire staff gives Emily a standing ovation. They don’t even know that Emily has been circumcised and how exactly she has been mistreated, but they safely assume that she has been through hell.
I cry seeing this scene, because this loving welcome is exactly what Europe is lacking towards our refugees. The volunteers or workers at some goodwilling NGO’s in camps are trying to let them know they are (relatively) safe. But they can only make the best of it, with only basic healthcare, basic food and horrible accommodation. Cold tents in the muddy puddles. Queuing for the toilets. Aggression in the camp. Rapes. Theft.
The refugees have basically landed in some kind of prison, and no NGO-worker can actually tell them they are welcome, because over their heads European politics is deciding they are not welcome at all and if they would be, they still need to wait for years in uncertainty and imprisoned, robbed from every human dignity.
Giving refugees the welcome Emily gets, is the only humane thing to do. European politics is committing huge humanitarian crimes by taking such a hostile position towards all those victims. The only solution is that all European leaders remember where their heart is, see ‘the Emily’ in them and decide that large amounts of money need to go to welcoming all these people. Of course they are welcome. Yes, all of them!
Let’s put some of Europes intelligence and energy (there is a lot available, for instance at universities) to figure out the best plan to solve this crisis. And please, please, don't say that money is the problem. We all know there's money available when you need it, it's just a matter of priorities. It merely depends on whether we want to choose the humane approach or the inhumane one, like Europe is doing now.