Winter has begun making itself felt in the northern hemisphere. Many people have already begun planning long holidays for the winter. Some are planning to rest in a ski resort, others by the side of a lake. Some people are thinking of visiting relatives or holding a family reunion at home. However, all these plans may be spoiled by unforeseen developments. For instance;
You can easily twist an ankle and be put out of action on your first day at a ski resort.
You can get hypothermia by falling into the lake as you sail along in a boat.
You can have a traffic accident and be incapacitated for a long time as you plan to go and visit relatives.
There is also the possibility of burning the dinner due to a moment’s lack of attention and having to cancel your social gathering. Briefly, the plans you think will make you happy can easily end in trouble and disappointment by way of similar mishaps.
You can cope with all these possibilities in some way: You can wait for your ankle to heal, have your car repaired or order takeout when you burn the dinner.
But what if things happen to spoil your winter plans that you cannot put right? What if your house burns down, your child suffers an accident and dies or your spouse drowns before your eyes?
Tragedies that might seem out of the question for many people have in fact frequently been taking place in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Those people are simply trying to save their own lives as well as those of their families. They lose their lives while trying to flee from armed conflicts and bombings. These are the migrants from North Africa and the Middle East who just want to rebuild their lives somewhere they can feel safe, where there is no conflict and bombing.
The United Nations is now also making plans for the winter. But these plans are intended to keep refugees alive, rather than just entertain them as sources of fun. Winter conditions make life in the camps housing refugees even more difficult. The great majority of these people have no homes to protect them from the cold, nor fuel with which to heat them.
Humanitarian aid packages containing sleeping bags, thermal blankets, overcoats, socks, shoes and other items of clothing are being readied for the migrants. Accommodation for these refugeesis also being set up. The winter aid program, with its budget of $1 billion, hopes to help 2.5 million Syrians and 700,000 Iraqis.
The UN High Commission for Refugees, which is in charge of this activity, reports that 644,000 people have reached Europe by sea and that some 15 million people have been displaced in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Syria. *
The U.N. is calling on countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Libya to mobilize all their resources to keep the refugees alive. Let us hypothesize that this plan works and the countries hosting refugees this year or next year, and the U.N., manage to do so under the best possible circumstances in the face of the harsh conditions of winter, no matter how impossible this may seem.
Will that diminish the migrant problem in any way? Or will it solve the problem if all the migrants are kept in Turkey, with vast sums of money being set aside for the purpose from the E.U, as has been suggested?
Of course not.
The EU’s approach to the migrant problem is reminiscent of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain just before the Second World War. Chamberlain thought that he could halt the expansionist plans of Hitler’s Germany through a ‘policy of appeasement.’ Though well-intentioned, it ultimately resulted in a debacle. Just like Chamberlain’s policies, measures aimed at refusing migrants, erecting walls or trying to host them in Turkey are no definitive solution and are also condemned to failure.
The flood of migrants will not cease so long as the conflict and policies of armed intervention, the true source of the problem, in the Middle East continues. Conflict will continue if the real root of the problem, that is the problem of a lack of education isn't dealt with.
It is very important for European politicians to remember that there are no safe havens for anyone. Anyone, be they Syrian or German, Libyan or French, may well find themselves in difficulties at any moment, no matter where they live.
As a matter of fact, it is irrelevant if you live in a secure and prosperous country (just think of Austria prior to the Nazi Anschluss). Invasion, terrorist attacks, an economic crisis or natural disasters may turn your life upside down at any moment. Even if you have extended a helping hand to people in the past you may still find yourself in a similar plight and end up hoping to see a helping hand yourself.
Therefore, instead of financial resources, the most important tools in the resolution of Europe’s refugee crisis should be love, affection and a spirit of solidarity. Love and compassion can overcome all obstacles. The plans set out by the UN and similar organizations for the refugees are worth appreciating; however, it is essential that love and compassion enter the equation before people require humanitarian assistance so that none of these troubles are lived.
Some Western politicians might have probably thought, “Syria is a long way away, and it cannot possibly have any effect on us.” They might have decided to start air strikes assuming that eradicating ‘risk elements’ would be the solution. In consequence of mistaken decisions that incited a war, that is how the events ended up. Had mediation and peaceful initiatives been employed right from the outset, the world and the Middle East in particular would not be living the horror that envelops it right now and Europe might not be facing the migrant crisis it is currently. Let us not forget that loving other people produces easier, more humane and more lasting solutions than dropping bombs on them.