There are 65 million people displaced in the world today. Eleven million people in Syria have been killed or forced to flee. Where have they fled to and where have the been welcome?
Believe it or not, the truth is that it is the Middle-Eastern countries that have sheltered most refugees. There are 4.7 million refugees in the countries which neighbour Syria. Turkey has taken in almost 2.7 million. The tiny nation of Lebanon has welcomed more than one million. Europe, however, has taken in 1.3 million and they have called it a crisis. According to the extremist right there, refugees must be stopped and deported, as they are not welcome.
The children have suffered the most. Eleven thousand children lose their homes, schools and playgrounds every day. Half of all refugees are children under 18. They face the blasts and bullets, rockets and mortars and all consuming fires. They suffer burns all over their bodies from the napalm-like brimstone that is rained upon them from the gasoline-fuelled barrel bombs. The black-hearted regime has unleashed a violence that is a horrific war crime. It is a regime of unfettered power and oppression that has, with its allies, poured out hatred and the fury of an all-out war, suffering and death on thousands of children.
Many have fled to the European countries and found only little welcome, with more and more rejection and exclusion. The extremists on the political right are there to block and deny them help, relief, rest and peace.
The caring, welcoming and valiant people who make up the thousands of volunteers who have welcomed and reached out to help the refugees are the voice of justice and hope. But they are not winning the political ground. The far right groups are growing in political clout and are stirring up hatred against the refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the more extreme are burning down their shelters.
Is there really a refugee crisis in Europe? In fact, 86 per cent of the world’s refugees are being sheltered in low and middle-income countries. In all of Europe only 1.8 million refugees made it across the borders. Most were accepted in Germany but the far right wants still them excluded.
The numbers seeking asylum as per population tells the story. In every 100,000 Hungarians, only 1,800 refugees claimed asylum in 2015. Sweden followed close behind with 1,667 asylum applications per 100,000 Swedes. The figure for Germany was 587 per 100,000 populations and for the UK it was 60 applications only. They have a tightly closed door. The EU average was 260 asylum seekers in every 100,000 of the population. The population of Europe is 743.1 million people. The number of refugees seeking asylum are but a few drops in the ocean. In the United States, 10,000 refugees were admitted by President Obama. Canada has accepted 30,000 and will take in more.
It is the rich materialistic secular Europe that is growing more racist. It is a small but growing part of society living more in the lowest selfish strata of human existence. They cannot look and see them, or reach out and share their bounty with the needy refugees.
The most immediate solution is to make peace in the Middle East and end the war. In the meantime, the refugees need a home and have a right to a temporary place to stay and find peace and be welcome.
(Fr. Shay Cullen)