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The Mediterranean genocide is nothing new , over 25,000 people have drowned when they have tried to cross the sea to reach Europe during the last 20 years. European politicians have known about this problem for centuries, yet it is still ongoing. The reason for this is that they simply want it to be like this: they are stuck between being insanely evil or sacrificially merciful, and then they chose a deadly middle-way instead. That’s why Syrian children die in Mare Nostrum: it’s because of politics.
First of all, why do refugees die in the Mediterranean? It’s because they travel with extremely fragile boats provided by smugglers. These crooks usually demand lots of money – often around 1,000 euros and sometimes even as much as 10,000 euros. So why don’t the refugees fly with airplanes? Well, because they aren’t allowed to. As professor Hans Rosling explains in the video above, an EU directive has made sure that airlines must pay the costs of all immigrants who aren’t refugees and therefore are to be deported. Since no airline wants to take the risk of paying these costs, they simply deny all people from developing countries that don’t have a visa, entrance to their planes. And visas aren’t granted to refugees.
This is why all refugees must enter the EU illegally, on dangerous boat rides across the Mediterranean or inside trucks from Turkey to Greece. It’s illegal because there is no single way for them to enter legally. Still, since refugees must be granted asylum according to UN conventions that European countries have signed as well as EU:s own decisions, many who do enter a EU country will be granted asylum, and then suddenly become a legal immigrant. Pretty messed up system, isn’t it?
As the election to the European Parliament gets closer, I want to highlight some of the biggest European sins that unfortunately are not very present in the political debates.
Let us, as usual, look at the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia to get a definition of today’s deadly sin: “Pride is the excessive love of one’s own excellence… By it the creature refuses to stay within his essential orbit; he turns his back upon God, not through weakness or ignorance, but solely because in his self-exaltation he is minded not to submit. His attitude has something Satanic in it.”
I would say that Europe is overflowing with pride. It is because of their pride that European politicians promote economic inequality with Europe at the top, and because of pride they oppress the poor through neo-colonialism, destroy the planet and refuse to give enough aid so that poor people die abroad. And if that wasn’t enough, pride creates xenophobia, racism and evil migration policies.
It’s not any big news that xenophobia and racism is spreading across Europe. Xenophobic parties want to stop immigration of people from the so called third world, they are hostile towards Muslims and want to limit freedom of religion, and they emphasize their own culture and nation (which always is very pathetic in Europe since basically all countries here have changed culturally, geographically and politically over and over again since the fall of the Roman empire).
A couple of days ago the leader of the main racist party here in Sweden was holding a very weird speech. Besides stating that you cannot separate what’s Christian and what’s Swedish, and demanding that Swedish churches must be built with Swedish material, he used the horrible sarin gas attack in Syria as an argument for not receiving refugees from there. Yeah, you heard me. He said that since the crisis in Syria is so severe, it is horrible for the Swedish government to waste money on asylum immigration instead of supporting the refugees in their local areas, i.e. refugee camps.
Perhaps he missed the news about Syrians wanting to return to the conflict because the circumstances in their Jordanian refugee camps are killing them.
I mean, God bless the UNHCR, we should really give as much as we can to them right now, but they can never ever offer the same security, welfare and peace that a Western country can. It’s ridiculously stupid to say that it’s cheaper to help refugees in their local areas than welcoming them to the West, because the results are extremely cheap as well. And no, the refugees that manage to get to a Western country don’t want to be deported to a refugee camp. If we really care about Syrian lives, we must welcome them to our countries.
Today is 50 years since Martin Luther King‘s extremely famous “I have a dream” speech at Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. He has inspired countless people through the decades to passionately work for justice and freedom using non-violence, and also to seek the God he so zealously followed. The problems he adressed – racism, injustice and violence – still exist in various forms, and so we should take his example and keep up the good fight against it. Here are three areas I think needs special concern:
Racism and Xenophobia in Europe
The ugliness of racism sadly exists in most places arounf the world, and even though the situation for African Americans have become better it is far from optimal. Yet, as a European, I think what we are seeing here sometimes are even far worse. In Greece a neo-Nazi party got 7 % of the seats in the parliament. In Hungary, a neo-Nazi party got 12 % of the seats in the parliament. Hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, Blacks, homosexuals and other minorities are on the rise. Just a couple of weeks ago, a Muslim woman here in Sweden got beaten by a racist for wearing a hijab. The event caused a massive protest where thousands of women weared hijab in solidarity. Then, a new group of racists found the woman and beat her up again. What can we do? Use the example of Luther King: be a light in the darkness, use nonviolence in the midst of violence, be loving in the midst of hate, welcome the stranger in the midst of xenophobia. (more…)
As I’ve mentioned previously, Iris Relief is right now helping Syrian refugees in Jordan, bringing food, love and the power of the living God. On their facebook feed as well as through other sources, the team publish several testimonies of hope and relief in the midst of unimaginable suffering. Here are some of those testimonies:
I have been been brought to tears today as I sat with the Syrian Refugees listening to their tragic and horrific stories of what war has cost them. Love looks like something! – Daniel
Our Iris Relief Middle East team had so much favor today and made it into the refugee camp in Zaa-tari where 100,000 refugees are staying. We listened to horrendous stories of imprisonment and torture. We saw inner healings as well as many physical healings as we prayed at each tent. The indigenous Jor-danians said that the kind of breakthrough that we saw today has never happened before. These desperate people are absolutely beautiful and Papa God has broken our hearts for them – Christian
Sitting in a UNHCR tent w/ a family of Sy-rian refugees who fled war only 4 days before, I was blown away by this muffin. At her young age she has lived through bombs, bullets and 2 massacres. 1 of 400 ppl and another of 500 ppl. Looking deep into her eyes, holding her in my arms and echoing each other’s giggles I could only lean back on the goodness of God. No matter how bad the circumstance, his love is ALWAYS enough. Always. His beauty is found in the hope he brings to the hurting, the life he restores to the broken-hearted and the fact that he powerfully pursues us wherever we’re at. We’ve seen so much pain, so much devastation but I’ve never been more in love or filled with more hope. – Cassandra (more…)
I know, I’ve written about the crisis in Syria before, it shouldn’t be new to anyone that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophical. But things have become even worse. Today, leaders of four giat UN agencies – UNICEF, WFP, OCHA and UNHCR – published the video above were they demand more support for the humanitarian relief in Syrian and neighbouring countries. There isn’t enough money. People die because of lack of money. The political leaders of donor countries are to blame for this of course, but it won’t hurt if we dig in our pocket books ourselves to save lives.
As of the beginning March 2013, Jordan has received over 320,000 Syrian refugees, with the numbers expected to double or triple over the coming months. There are wide spread shortages of food, water, medical, hygiene and education resources. Jordan is under pressure and struggling to keep up with the demand of the ever increasing basic needs of those seeking refuge. (more…)
One year ago, me and my dear friend Michael Liliequist made a (very improvised) video clip lobbying for a global arms trade treaty, simply because selling bananas was more regulated than selling weapons:
A few weeks later we made a new (more directed) video explaining how much money is wasted on the killing industry instead of doing good things, like eradicating malaria:
And guess what? We did it!!
After two years of extremely violent conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria is now catastrophic and the aid provided falls drastically short of what is needed. The diplomatic paralysis preventing a political resolution of the conflict can by no means excuse the failure of humanitarian response. MSF calls on the parties involved in the conflict to negotiate an agreement on humanitarian aid, to facilitate its supply around the country via neighbouring countries or across front lines. Meanwhile, states, United Nations and donors must acknowledge the country’s fragmentation and urgently give their support to NGOs to help them provide assistance where they can.
The Syrian population is faced with a conflict of extreme violence and a humanitarian situation of catastrophic proportions: the previously well functioning health system has collapsed; food shortages are commonplace, and water and electricity supply is disrupted. “Medical aid is being targeted, hospitals destroyed and medical personnel captured,” explains Dr. Marie-Pierre Allié, President of MSF France. According to the United Nations, 2.5 million Syrians have been displaced in the country, while 57% of hospitals have been damaged and 36% are unable to function according to official data. These statistics do not include the private clinics or makeshift hospitals that have been destroyed or damaged.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day which highlights the severe discrimination and oppression of women all around the world. There are strong evidence for the thesis that if gender equality is promoted in developing countries, it will give positive effects when it comes to political participation, poverty reduction and human rights.
But gender equality also has an intrinsic value, as people created in the image of God, it is totally unacceptable when women are facing oppression, violence and humiliation. Christian Aid has written this text about women’s situation in war, with the case study of Syria, that emphazise the importance of gender awareness.
Women in wartime
Today some 90% of war casualties are civilians, the majority of whom are women and children.
Just over a century ago, when the first International Women’s Day events were held, women and children made up only 10% of war casualties, while military personnel made up the majority of those who lost their lives.
International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday
This year International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday fall over the same weekend, on 8 and 10 March respectively.
These are both moments for celebrating the strength, resilience and inspiration of women all over the planet. But they are also times to draw attention to the fact that women are the world’s second class citizens.
As you may have noticed, I’ve written a lot about humanitarian aid the last couple of days. I feel a growing passion for this issue, and I really want to spread it on to others. However, I have noticed that it is not so easy to do.
To my experience, most people are quite uninterested in humanitarian aid; they aren’t reading much about it nor giving that much money to it. When I look at the statistics of my Swedish blog, the posts last year that got the least views are those who concerned humanitarian crises (with the single exception of Gaza). And when I get reports from humanitarian organizations, they constantly talk about that their projects are underfunded.
Why is it like this? Why are rich people spending billions on sports, entertainment and luxuries while people suffer and die in Syria because of lack of humanitarian aid? Some would say that this is caused by human nature, we cannot help that we aren’t so interested in saving the lives of people far away. However, this cannot explain how humanitarian aid workers lay down their lives to help people they’ve never met. Humanitarian passion is rare but does exist.
Few have missed that there is a catastrophical humanitarian crisis in Syria. 60 000 have died in the conflict, about 1.2 million Syrians are displaced within the country, and another 600,000 have fled their homes for neighboring countries. As if this wasn’t enough, the winter this year has been very cold in the Middle East, and about one million Syrians go hungry.
In the midst of this enormous sufferings, many Christian aid organizations do their best to bring humanitarian relief to these victims of war. In Lebanon, to which over 150 000 Syrians have fled (half of them being children), both World Vision and Christian Aid are providing food, shelter, heating and more. They are currently helping thousands of families and plan to expand the relief even more. Obviously, they need money for that.