Friday, September 11, 2015

Mistreating Refugees in Europe

Mistreating Refugees in Europe

by Stephen Lendman

US wars with complicit NATO nations bear full responsibility for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers flooding into European countries daily.

Instead of providing humane treatment they deserve, they’re abused most everywhere they go. Human Rights Watch accused EU states of “doubling down (on) border management.”

“Along the Baltic route,” refugees experience police abuse and “pushbacks,” said HRW. Temporary camp facilities are hellholes, unfit for human habitation.

Desperate scenes in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and elsewhere in Europe show refugees’ pain, hardships and suffering continue on European soil - denied adequate shelter, too little or no food, water and medical care, treated abusively, not like desperate human beings in need.

Amnesty International’s Kondylia Gogou said refugees arriving in Greece “fled war and persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They include children, some with their families but others traveling alone. The hellish conditions the refugees are now forced to endure and the official indifference to their plight are appalling.”

Local thugs attack them. Police do nothing to intervene. Arrivals unable to afford accommodations sleep in tents under appalling conditions. Even public toilets are closed.

AI’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Gauri van Gulik, said “(t)he arduous odyssey faced by people fleeing conflict does not end on Greece’s shores.” 

“Forced to walk long distances in searing heat and stay in squalid camps or out in the open, refugees and asylum seekers see little alternative but to continue their journey, contributing to the disaster we’ve seen on the Macedonian border in recent days.”

“This is not just a Greek tragedy, but a Europe-wide crisis. It is unfolding before the eyes of short-sighted European leaders who prioritize securing borders over helping survivors of conflict.” 

“The world is seeing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. What Europe’s borders need is not fences but safe entry points for refugees, and facilities to receive them with dignity.”

Conditions in Hungary are especially harsh. AI’s Barbora Cernusakova said she “witnessed a new low” in appalling refugee treatment. People are fed like animals, food thrown to them, refugees struggling to catch what they can.

Some Hungarian trains go nowhere. People stuck for days in dire conditions rush to board one they believe is heading for Germany. Around 30 km from Budapest, a Syrian refugee explained what happened, saying:

“The train stopped. The police announced that we have to disembark otherwise they would use force. So we complied, opened the doors and started walking to the platform.” 

“Outside the station there were buses. The police were shouting and we saw smoke. I decided to escape so I walked away and continued along the railways hoping I was heading in the direction of Austria.” 

“But I was walking back to Budapest instead! Eventually I gave up and took a taxi back to the” train’s point of departure, a devastating end to a hopeful journey.

Refugees call Hungarian facilities “prisons” and “Guantanamo.” Police are abusive. Conditions are deplorable, lacking food, water and sanitation.

“They are treating us like animals, worse than animals,” said one arrival. New Hungarian laws target refugees and asylum seekers - mandating prison sentences for illegal border crossing or damaging fencing and other barriers to keep them out.

US wars caused floods of refugees and asylum seekers. Obama, Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Francois Hollande’s solution is escalated war, assuring greater than ever numbers of desperate people fleeing for safe havens out of harm’s way - enduring hazards  throughout their journey, finding no solace nearly everywhere they go.

Obama claiming he’ll admit around 10,000 Syrian refugees in the fiscal year beginning this October 1 on the one hand ignores his responsibility for causing the human flood in the first place.

On the other, expect this promise to be broken like virtually every other important one throughout his tenure. He consistently says one thing and does another.

He’s responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Ukrainians, Yemenis and others, displacing millions, an endless human flood increasing daily.

Accepting a handful of Syrian refugees is duplicitous tokenism - on top of ignoring the greatest refugee crisis since WW II, victims of US imperial wars.

The only solution is stopping them, their mass slaughter, destruction, displacement and appalling human misery. As long as they continue, millions of desperate people will keep fleeing for safe havens - an endless struggle to stay alive.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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