We turn our attention to Europe, compelled by shocking images of refugees’ deaths. To the stories of the stateless having identification numbers written on them and told their trains are headed to a safety, rather than camps. Eerie reminders from the past merge with disturbing pictures of the present.
What will be the refugees’ future? War has uprooted half of Syria’s population, creating 4 million international refugees, with tens of thousands more fleeing to Europe to escape humanitarian crisis or armed conflict from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan and Sudan. Inspiringly, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica is opening his summer home to 100 children, while Pope Francis calls on parishes and religious communities to provide shelter. Yet globally few nations are doing enough. The US has accepted less than 1500 Syrians, although President Obama has pledged to increase it to a nominal 10,000. A European Commission plan advances to settle 160,000 in the European Union. Many European nations, including Germany, are pledging to do much more, yet others insist the migrants apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach (often an overloaded Greece), pushing back on proposed mandatory quotas. (There is something absurd in watching countries who colonized or controlled much of the world now protecting borders.)