Just days before Greece began deporting migrants to Turkey under a deal to ease Europe’s migrant crisis, Amnesty International released a report alleging the forced return of Syrians in Turkey back to the very war zone they fled.
Not all of the migrants stuck in temporary centers on the coast of Greece are Syrian, but they are migrants nonetheless — vulnerable, stateless and subject to abuse.
Fears that terrorists (Syrian migrants are the most likely to be targeted as such) are among them have been stoked from Europe to the United States, while others are protesting what they say is an inhumane policy.
Every single migrant has a story, a compelling reason for leaving their homes, often under dangerous circumstances that are hard to imagine.
Migration is a fact of life, historically documented. More than 100 years ago, America was the destination point for those hoping for a better life. Now it’s Europe’s turn. After deadly terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe – Paris and Brussels – the basic human desire to create a better life is colliding head on with rising fears that terrorists groups like ISIS can attack at any time and in any place.
Europe’s migrants, Turkey’s problem
Politico – Roy Gutman
For those fleeing barrel bombs or the tyranny of the Islamic State extremists, the EU-Turkey deal has created an existential crisis.
Jassem, 32, a math teacher from eastern Syria, who’d been working for the U.N. in Damascus, fled to Turkey in late December, primarily to avoid being drafted into the Syrian army. A short time later and hoping to join him, his girlfriend, Rahma, 19, left her home in a village under ISIL control in the eastern Deir el-Zour province in hopes of joining him….
Shortly after she arrived, the couple married, but then got the news that Turkey would block any departures — illegal or legal — to Greece. For Rahma, who arrived with just the clothes she had been wearing and no documents, and Jassem, who now has only his Syrian passport, after his U.N. identification was stolen while he was sleeping in a dormitory accommodation, it was a crushing disappointment.
EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement Needs a Miracle
Bernd Riegert – Deutsche Welle
There are an estimated 8,000 people on the Greek islands slated for deportation to Turkey. More arrive on boats every day, though fewer have opted for the Aegean route since the deal was inked. Now, the number of people risking the more dangerous passage to Libya and across the Mediterranean to Italy has increased. The relief that EU heads of state felt after washing their hands of the humanitarian catastrophe and passing it on to Turkey could soon fade as refugees choose other routes to the European Union. The UN refugee agency has continually warned that the EU will not remain sealed off in the long term.
For the 50,000 people who are stuck in Greece at the now-sealed border with Macedonia, and to whom the pact does not apply, there is no solution in sight. It is a scandal, and the rest of the European Union has chosen to look away. Refugees who do not arrive directly in Austria, France or Germany are no longer of interest to those countries. It’s something for Greece alone to deal with. So much for European solidarity.
Watch Obama’s Solution to Fix America’s Immigration System:
If Europe Is at War, It’s at War With Itself
H.D.S. Greenway – The Boston Globe
Typically, the first generation of immigrants just wants to work hard and get along in a strange land. The second and third generations have cut their ties to the countries from whence their parents and grandparents came, but are not completely accepted by their European hosts. This leads to alienation and sometimes to petty crime. Some find solace in the mosque, and a smaller minority in terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. There they can find that lost sense of belonging and purpose. They are now part of a movement bigger then themselves. And then there is the excitement of belonging to a secret organization, a thrill that links all terrorist organizations, whether they are Muslim or secular.
The problem for Europe is how to absorb a Muslim population that, in some cases, resists absorption. But even some who want to fit in find they cannot. I am haunted by the memory of a Muslim doctor in France who told me: “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. There is no equality, because people of talent coming in don’t have equal opportunity. If you have a North African name, you don’t get the job. There is not much fraternity because if there is no equality how can you be brothers?” And as for liberty, it can’t exist if it means one thing for some and something less for other.