Speaking to my American friends, it became apparent that only a small number of them knew anything about the migrant crisis in Europe, which has become a monumental political and social problem for all nations in Europe, particularly those with shorelines nearest to Africa. This is a brief summary of the situation as it stands.
People are fleeing the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan; they are fleeing human rights abuses in Eritrea; and they are also setting out from Libya, Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kosovo, Iraq, Iran Darfur, Somalia and other countries, in the hope of a new life somewhere like Germany, France or the UK. This problem is not just one of human suffering it has many layers. To start with, it has been questioned whether many of people fleeing to Europe are really refugees, or whether they economic migrants? This would put a very different spin on whether countries should be offering refuge. Also, which countries will be willing and able to take these people, and how many will they offer refuge to?
Until relatively recently, the word ‘Jungle’ conjured up images of dense trees, exotic plants and interesting animals. Today, this word in Europe has very different connotations… it is inexorably linked to a massive refugee camp based in Calais, France, called “The Jungle”, which has no running water, no toilet facilities, and where the inhabitants live mainly in tents. This slum is home to over 6000 people, many of whom have declared their destination to be the UK, and to that end, they are prepared to try any and all means to smuggle themselves across the Channel, stowing away in trucks, and even trying to ride on the roof of the Channel Tunnel trains.
It is not only France who is in the midst of this crisis; desperate people have entered countries all over Europe. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, has invited over 100,000 already, much to the horror of many German citizens. The migrants have brought with them violence, gang mentality, and a medieval attitude towards women which has resulted in almost unbelievable numbers of attacks against women in Germany and Sweden in particular.
Gangs of men of “North African and Arab origin” in Cologne Germany, sexually assaulted and robbed hundreds of women in in a wave of attacks at train stations and in the streets on New Year’s Eve. A fact that, by the way, the German authorities kept secret from the world’s media for 8 days. A Swedish social worker Alexandra Mezher, is alleged to have been stabbed to death by Somalian migrant Youssaf Khaliif Nuur at an adolescent migrant center where she worked in Gothenberg, Sweden last month. A teenage migrant accused of raping a female worker at an asylum seekers’ center in Belgium had, only two weeks previously attended a course on ‘how to treat women’.
All of this feeds into to a highly charged debate over immigration in Europe. We are having to teach the male migrants in seminars and by distributing leaflets that they are not actually allowed to grope women! If someone had told me this a few months ago, I would have laughed, but this is actually happening and is certainly no laughing matter.
The European Union, and the governments of the individual countries have been slow to react to this crisis, and in some cases have even tried to cover up the extent of the problems it is causing. I do not know what the solution will be, and apparently neither do the leaders of our Nations, but one thing is for sure, something has to be done for the plight of the desperate migrants themselves who are risking their lives and those of their children in pursuit of a better life in Europe, and also for the good of the countries they are aspiring to.