Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. It feels like every week brings some new horror; new tales of refugees drowning, asphyxiating, freezing to death, or murdered by people smugglers while trying to breach ‘Fortress Europe’.
One falls from the landing gear of an aircraft. Nine are crushed to death trying to make it through the Channel Tunnel. Seventy-one are sealed in a truck without air holes and asphyxiate. 800 drown in the Mediterranean when they are locked below decks and their boat capsizes. It’s easy to forget that these aren’t just numbers, and that each digit represents an individual human life.
Some of our commenters have been quick to argue that most, or all, of these people are “fake refugees”, as if this somehow makes them deserving of their fate (despite the UN arguing that there is no such thing as a “fake refugee”). Perhaps this makes it easier to process so much misery. If we dehumanise refugees, then everything becomes less complicated.
But the current system is broken. Wherever you stand on the issue of asylum and migration, it is clear that things need to change. People are taking to the streets on both sides of the debate. In Germany, there have been anti-immigrant riots and arson attacks on refugee shelters over the summer.
Some in Germany have had enough. They have been holding rallies, unfurling banners that say asylum seekers are welcome, and even accepting refugees into their homes. A new project called “Refugees Welcome” has recently launched, described as an “Airbnb for refugees”. But should normal people step in when governments aren’t offering leadership? Or is it up to Europe’s politicians to take charge and tackle the crisis?
Are we in danger of forgetting that refugees are human? Are Europeans becoming desensitised to refugee deaths? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!