From the May-June 2016 issue of News & Letters
Causes range from genocide to climate change. But at the crux of the world refugee crisis—there are now over 50 million refugees worldwide, and eight die every day reaching for a better life—is a demand for new human relations.
It’s hard to register the numbers, or the suffering. In mid-April as many as 500 migrants and refugees from Egypt and other African countries drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when the ship carrying them sank. Over 3,770 people drowned trying to reach Europe last year.
In Europe, most refugees are Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. Most of the world refugee phenomenon flows from the rulers’ criminal actions—such as George W. Bush’s reactionary wars, the fundamentalist religious forces that grew in their wake, Assad’s genocide, and Putin’s rallying of Europe’s neo-Nazis under anti-immigrant banners. These racist, imperialist forces both created and profited from the devastation.
That a camp like Idomeni, Greece, can be compared by the Greek Interior Minister to a Nazi concentration camp is a judgment on Europe’s “civilization.”
A similar crisis exists in U.S. politics in this election year, as racists like Donald Trump attack immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East. Once again, there is that will to deny any responsibility for centuries of exploitation of Latin America and Africa that is at the root of inhuman attitudes toward refugees, and once again it becomes an opening for the most reactionary politicians.