Some days ago I attended a summer school in peace & conflict studies in the North of Italy. On my way back home, I had to cross the border between Italy and Austria. While I was waiting for my train in Verona’s main station, I noticed two Italian police men. They stood on my track and observed everyone around them. From time to time, they stopped particular persons and requested to see their passports and train tickets. I came closer to them and noticed that they checked people with black skin only. When I went by, they did not even bother to look at me for one second. When we arrived at the border, the Brenner Pass, three policemen went through the train and repeated the whole procedure. I looked out of the window and imagined tanks and heavily armed troops next to the train. Just a few days ago, Austria had warned Italy that it would deploy troops at the border if Italy does not secure it.
I deeply asked myself where are the so-called European values today?
Thousands of refugees arrive at the shores of Italy and Greece each month. However, the solidarity between European countries disappeared in the deep-sea. Everybody knows that Greece’s economy is very unstable, and Italy has a youth unemployment rate of 40%! How can these two countries accommodate all refugees in the coming years?
It is obvious that European politicians care more about votes than human lives. In Germany, the parties do not even openly discuss this issue because they are scared of losing voters. Racist people dominate their agenda. There are even European people who bought a boat for more than $100,000 to “defend European borders.” It is disgusting! They could help so many poor people with the money. But instead, they want to stop refugee boats and bring back the people to Libya. This is cruel, and stupid. First of all, the people will try to do it again because they have nothing to lose, and Libya is one of the most dangerous places in the world since Gaddafi was killed. He was certainly not a democratic leader who respected human rights, but whatever came after him, is much worse. However, the international community does not care about the people in the country anymore. It is too busy with bombing Yemen and other postcolonial countries.
What is also stunning to me is the fact that many European people think that the refugees who cross the sea are only looking for economic opportunities. Most Europeans know nothing about refugees, let along what is currently happening in the countries where they are coming from. The top five countries are: Nigeria, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, and Syria (UNHCR).
The media is mostly talking about African migrants or refugees. Well, Africa is the second biggest continent in the world. And there are many refugees on these boats who do not even come from Africa as listed above. At least, journalists should travel to these countries and tell Europeans what is happening on the ground. Otherwise, the media contributes to the stigmatization of refugees.
I have lived three years in Namibia. Of course, I cannot talk about the situation of the whole African continent. However, during this time I have learned a lot about (post)colonialism, the Western-backed African elite and the connection between poverty and the superficial consumer culture in rich countries. Whoever thinks that the products in our supermarkets are worth their price, then they should be a farmer in Africa for one day. They should work in the burning sun, spray chemicals on their bodies, and watch how climate change destroys the crops and the soil in front of their eyes. They should sit in front of starving children, and go to bed with an empty stomach.