Understanding the tragic refugee crisis and the answer to two key questions: Why are mostly young men coming, and why now when the war in Syria has been going on since 2011?
Originally appeared at Advance.hr, translated by Stevo Marjanović exclusively for SouthFront
Syrian refugees, which from now on we will meet more and more as we walk the streets of our cities, suffered a double tragedy. The first is, of course, the terrible war which is afflicting their country, and the other is exhausting journey into the unknown to which they are somehow lured.
Today we are dealing with one of the key questions of this major humanitarian disaster – why refugees arrive in Europe now? The answer to this question should be given as precisely as possible in order to better understand the plight of these people, but also to dispel some dubious theories which are provoking provoke fear and panic in society.
Large migrant wave in the summer of 2015
First things first. The war in Syria began in the spring of 2011. Of course, the intensity of the war was not the same as it is today, but even then, many decided to leave Syria, knowing that this was not going to come out well.
We’re talking about tensions that have been piling up for decades in Syria, and in the spring of 2011, tensions escalated primarily due to geopolitical turmoil that has hit the Middle East.
Since then, the war is going on which became increasingly worse and more intense every day, and with the entry of ISIL at the scene war became even more brutal. However, ISIL has been active since the spring of 2013. Again the question arises, why refugees from Syria en masse just now?
First, we must point out that in the current wave of immigration that arrived in Europe there are not only refugees from Syria. They come from Eritrea, Mali, sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Gambia, Bangladesh, Pakistan …
Suddenly they all come together from all parts of the world. We are talking about a huge area – there is over 11,000 kilometers between the Gambia and Bangladesh. It shows us clearly that it is not an event in Syria that prompted this wave of migrants. Because if they were refugees only from Syria, then that would make things much easier to understand, then it would mean that there is obviously some kind of large-scale military offensives in the course and that life has become unbearable to the point that now everyone is leaving the country.
Since they have already fled from the war, now they are coming because of something else
But the fact is that the Syrians are leaving Syria for 5 years, ever since the war began. And for these five years they have not ventured towards Europe. Most of the time they spend in difficult conditions in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. A considerable part of them was transferred to Iraq, and some arrived in Egypt.
In other words, a huge refugee crisis which we are now following on Croatian territory, the people of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey monitored daily for five years.
Have local capacities filled to such an extent that people now literally have nowhere to go, so they must go towards Europe? Probably this is one of the reasons, but it is not the main reason.
If refugees do have an idea to enter Europe at the same time when war starts in their country, then the Croatian police would register them daily in Tovarnik for more than 10 years, or since the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. But that did not happened then, so why is it happening now?
Migrant wave to Europe has escalated sharply this summer. Thousands come each day. Why now?
They come because they were called upon
That depends on who you ask. If we ask only migrants they will often say that they made a decision right now based on their own judgment or that it is a coincidence that so many of them are coming just now.
One Syrian woman, who is crossed area of northern Serbia with her four children by foot, said in an interview with Time magazine that her husband was imprisoned by the Syrian authorities and how she decided to go to Europe only after he told her that it seems that there is no chance he will be released from prison. A young Afghan man, caught on the Greek island of Lesbos, said however that he went on the road only after his family managed, after many months, to raise enough money for his journey.
All these are individual stories, but there is one collective. There is a fact that attracted migrants and refugees this summer to Europe like a magnet and those responsible for this wave are located in Berlin. The German government early last month announced it would accept all Syrians who seek asylum in Germany, regardless of which way they reach the territory of Germany.
It is a very good offer for people who have spent these years of war either in the horrors of Syria or often equally horrific refugee camps Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
To avoid any confusion, the war in Syria is a huge incubator of tragic fates and must be terminated as soon as possible, ending the war in Syria is very important to solve this large migrant crisis, but it becomes apparent that the war in Syria is not the only reason why this great migration of people is going on. If we examine the German need for human resources it could be concluded that the authorities in Berlin even used the war in Syria as an excuse to attract huge numbers of people – and they need people urgently, and Europeans, no matter how many of them seek better lives in Germany, no European country can give them such quota.
What does the German offer actually mean? According to standard EU law on migration, refugees may be granted asylum only in the EU country you first enter. This means that the refugees would “stuck” in Greece, Malta, Italy or Bulgaria. If, in addition we mention that none of these countries has expressed a willingness to take them, and that those countries by themselves cannot offer some sort of prosperity, much less job security, it is no wonder that many have not even tried to seek asylum there.
They have a meeting with Merkel
Another thing is if the country explicitly wants you and offers you something concretely, then you will probably come. If someone offers you a good job, you will come to this interview but if you have to look for a job yourself, you may soon give up knocking from door to door.
It is similar with migrants, they know very well what has been offered, and where has been offered. Until Germany didn’t explicitly invited them with “come, we need you”, they hadn’t come (at least not in such numbers as of this summer). How many of them had previously entered Croatia? Almost no one, because, let’s face it, what can they do in Croatia? They will not get any work so should they fight with the local integrated mafia for a piece of black market? Many would say “no thanks, we prefer to wait for end of the war in the camp.”
But this is now different, quite different – Angela Merkel literally threw the hook, showed the way, put them “a bug in the ear” and they reacted exactly as it would be expected to respond after they were publicly invited – they went, to Germany, no matter how difficult the journey is, but hope and belief kept them that after all the trouble, in Germany, the biggest economic power of Europe, they will be able to start a new life.
After days and nights, after all sorts of horrors, pushing through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia … Now they are entering Croatia and discovering that the rules have changed. The first shock to them was on the border with Hungary, where they were welcomed by barbed fence, the special police, army, tear gas, batons, water cannons … How come? Why Hungary does not allow them to pass through? They will not disturb anybody, they did not came to live in Hungary, they did not came to take away Hungarian jobs, they do not plan to stay in Hungary for even a day. They want to be in Hungary for as little as possible, they are eager to forget that they ever were in Hungary and just want that train, bus or whatever, to get to Austria and then Germany, because they have a meeting with Angela Merkel in Germany who had invited them, and promised them a new beginning, a better life, away from the nightmares of war and mortalities.
Thanks, but no thanks, we want to continue
They do not understand what is with these Hungarians? Do they fear that they will smirch the road as they pass through their land? But after a few days of shocks at the border finally good news are coming – other transit route is opened through the Croatia. Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović publicly pointed out that Croatia will be just a “transit” in no way their shelter where they will be forced to take asylum in Croatia, a country where they probably want to stay even less than in Hungary.
But when they came here one really shocking information welcomed them. From here they have nowhere to go! They want to Slovenia, but the authorities say that they can’t go there. They chant “Germany! Germany!” and “Merkel Merkel,” they raise rebellion in Croatia, the Croats do not understand why. “We are saving them from war, and they are so ungrateful,” some are commenting. No, this is not a thing about gratefulness, these people have probably already fled from the war and do not require Croatian beds in Zagreb, they are only looking for a route which will take them where they were told that they should come.
Some wonder how the majority of migrants are young people. It is nothing to wonder about when the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We need people. We need young people. We need immigrants. As you all know, we have little children.” Is this not a clear appeal to young people, from Gambia to Bangladesh, to go towards Germany?
If you arrive to Germany, you’ll get asylum here – it was announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her message resonated throughout the world and the world mobilized. They heard that Germany needs hundreds of thousands of people because these people are not enough. This offer you could not refuse.
Welcome carpet is gone
The first broke through, hundreds of thousands broke through – and they now report back to their families which way to go so they came to Germany. It is a difficult path, but they passed it and they can give good advice to others on what to look out for and where to move to reach Germany as soon as possible .
But in the meantime, Merkel changed her mind, now they have a lot of migrants. Refugees face closed Hungarian border, and since last night, closed Croatian border, but they do not realize yet that this limit is actually closed by the Germany because her, recently opened Schengen borders, are now under control again.
Hungary obviously knew in advance what Merkel will do. As soon as they heard that Germany would remove welcome carpet they rushed to build a wall on the border. Croatia obviously does not have such well-informed officials, so they closed the border last night, realizing that this country will not be transit but rather a dead end.
Refugees and migrants (who joined them from different directions, because Germany did not said very clearly that they only want the refugees from Syria) were lured by Germany which now closed the doors re-introducing the border controls (by abolishing Schengen), and with closing of the German doors automatically, like dominoes, the Hungarian and Croatian doors closed too.
Young men and endless kilometers
With this we give quite accurate answer to the question why only now these people come from. As to the question why they are all young men, it should be clear by itself if you remember that most of these people do not run away from the war at a time (most had fled earlier during these 5 years of war) but they rather come to answer the call from Berlin. Who do you send first to go through the difficult and dangerous road for Germany? You do not send a woman and a small child! Families primarily send young and strong men, that will be able to cross that road. In doing so they will may roam hundreds of kilometers.
That’s the plan. That was the plan of those Afghans at the beginning of the story. They sent his son, who will, if successful, get a hold of Germany and integrate there, get a job. Later he can try to bring the rest of the family or, perhaps more likely, he can send money home. Let’s think of how much he can help his family in extremely poor Afghanistan with German wage, even if he gets to do the jobs that average Germans refuse to work.
There are among this wave of refugees, women and children and the elderly, those people are probably really fleeing from the war or trying to reach their family members who have already successfully arrived in Germany, Sweden or any other country. But the videos do not lie, most immigrants are young men, and mass-media make a very stupid mistake claiming that it is not like that (as if the public does not have good eyes) instead of just explaining why mostly young men are coming. They do that for some reason, probably political, because obviously Germany must not be compromised publicly.
Our dupeable guests and we
All in all, now that we know what these people have been through, how they were tricked, we can only express solidarity and try to explain to as many people as possible what actually happened. And maybe we can avoid tensions that could create in society. The solution, of course, is not for them to stay in Croatia (we can and should accept them as much as we can, but if the hundreds of thousands of them come here, that we cannot do), we know that and so do they.
Germany cannot be allowed to play with the fate of millions of people. Berlin must either immediately open the borders, or clearly and unequivocally say to these people that the opportunity has passed and that they are no longer welcomed. But Germany – which will require hundreds of thousands of people each year due to very poor demographic situation – the most convenient thing is to turn Balkans into a shelter for migrants who would later be delivered to it on an annual basis. “Spend the winter in Ježevo, Beli Manastir, wherever, and we will hear next year, possibly,” it does sound like that.
Well, this cannot happen, by no means should we agree on this scenario. We need to say this loud and clear, together with our guests that are coming from a distant world.