By Ricardo Carmo
The biggest phenomenon of global actuality, the migrations (also known as “refugees crisis”) are nowadays one of the most problematic topics in international politics that most unsettles the European Union, once that this demographic issue has been questioning the way that EU members have been connecting themselves with each other. In which way are the migrants from the “non-aligned” movement countries received in Europe? Is today’s Europe capable of integrating them better than in the 90s, when the migration waves began? How do the Europeans see the refugees?
I tried to make an analysis of this topic by reporting some of the episodes that I experienced during my time in Sicily, Italy. There where the contact with the reality of crossing the Mediterranean is felt very closely and where you can easily see the faces of those who fled from Maghreb and the Middle East. I was able to speak with homeless people on an occasion when I was part of a team of young volunteers and discovered the most varied destinations and stories of these migrants. I remember a man, probably in his 60s, who came from Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, from where he fled poverty, precarious conditions, in the hope that Europe would open the doors to a new, more dignified life. However, this did not happen, as he lives under the arcades of Catania’s financial district.
Despite everything, what struck me the most about the people I spoke to was the sparkle in their eyes: a sign of joy and kindness that I find difficult to achieve when I look at the place the EU has reserved for them.
Italy is, as we know, the entrance door not only to many migrants from Middle East Maghreb, but also to the ones coming from Subsaarian Africa (through Pelagie Islands, where we find the famous Lampedusa Island). Its capital is the quiet place of Lampedusa: a fishing and touristic city during the summer months that, since 2014, lives a great bustle due to the teams selected by the Italian Republic to aid those coming by the sea. In Lampedusa is currently situated the migrants reception center, where it is collected the maximum data as possible and it is sent to people to different institutions all over Italy. Children are the most accompanied ones until they are 18 years old (age when their institutional protection come to an end). Thus, some find a job like the rest of the adults, others end up in the streets, like many who arrive to the territory already adults due to lack of documentations, etc., and others even choose to head North, trying their luck in German, or returning to their home country because of not receiving in Europe the reception and conditions expected.
Along with Italy, Greece is also facing difficulties on managing this enormous exodus, more particularly in Lesbos Island, where exists a reception center identical to the Lampedusa one. In anyway, all European Union is currently struggling with the integration of thousands of migrants in its population and, even after 2015 events, the United Kingdom claimed not being able to manage this crisis, which led the country to secede and break the treaty it had with the former EEC in 1973 – along with the greater economic freedom that the country seeks in relation to the EU. The refugees are also a political weapon within EU: notice the case of Belarus/Poland tension – after being sanctioned for his undemocratic policies, Belarusian leader Lukashenko sent thousands of refugees to the neighbor Poland, with which it borders to the north, a situation that prompted Poland to launch a wall along the borders with Belarus to prevent the wave of war refugees from entering the country.
Those people who run from the war and misery in their countries are sometimes treated as puppets in the hands of EU member states, which embarrass me while European citizen, by Europe not giving the proper example: closing doors to those who have nothing and assuming neo-fascist positions, neo-Nazis in related to the theme, similarly to Austrian case. We can thus see that the refugee crisis is not a minor problem and shakes the institutions to the point that it exacerbates political demons and wills that we saw in action in the past century, which were asleep during years, almost as forgotten, but now return to the stage and to daily subjects. Therefore, the migrants issue must be treated by the rulers “with forceps” and, once it is the people who make democracy, it must proceed to the sensibilization of crowds, beginning with the school strata — elementary schools, high schools, faculties, to raise awareness of the EU issue to open its doors to citizens who have nothing different from Europeans in their essence: the fact that they are also human beings endowed with rights.