African immigrants are often blamed for ‘taking advantage’ of the porous Libyan coastline to ‘sneak’ into Europe. Yet, many of those refugees had lived peacefully in Libya and were forced to flee following the NATO-led war on that country in March 2011.
“I’m originally from Nigeria and I had been living in Libya for five years when the war broke out,” wrote Hakim Bello in the Guardian.
“I had a good life: I was working as a tailor and I earned enough to send money home to loved ones. But after the fighting started, people like us – black people – became very vulnerable. If you went out for something to eat, a gang would stop you and ask if you supported them. They might be rebels, they might be government, you didn’t know.”
The security mayhem in Libya led not only to the persecution of many Libyans, but also millions of African workers, like Bello, as well. Many of those workers could neither go home nor stay in Libya. They, too, joined the dangerous mass escapes to Europe.
War-torn Afghanistan has served as the tragic model of the same story.
Ajmal Sadiqi escaped Afghanistan, which has been in a constant state of war for many years, a war that took a much deadlier turn since the US invasion in 2001.
Sadiqi told CNN that the vast majority of those who joined him on his journey from Afghanistan, through other countries to Turkey, Greece and other EU countries, died along the way. But, like many in his situation, he had few alternatives.
“Afghanistan has been at war for 50 years and things are never going to change,” he said.
“Here, I have nothing, but I feel safe. I can walk on the street without being afraid.”
Alas, that sense of safety is, perhaps, temporary. Many in Europe are refusing to examine their own responsibility in creating or feeding conflicts around the world, while perceiving the refugees as a threat.
Despite the obvious correlation between western-sustained wars and the EU’s refugee crisis, no moral awakening is yet to be realized. Worse still, France and Italy are now involved in exploiting the current warring factions in Libya for their own interests.
Syria is not an entirely different story. There, too, the EU is hardly innocent.
The Syria war has resulted in a massive influx of refugees, most of whom are hosted by neighboring Middle Eastern countries, but many have sailed the sea to seek safety in Europe.
“All of Europe has a responsibility to stop people from drowning. It’s partly due to their actions in Africa that people have had to leave their homes,” said Bello.
“Countries such as Britain, France, Belgium and Germany think they are far away and not responsible, but they all took part in colonizing Africa. NATO took part in the war in Libya. They’re all part of the problem.”
Expectedly, Italy’s Salvini and other like-minded politicians refuse to frame the crisis that way.
They use whichever discourse needed to guarantee votes, while ignoring the obvious fact that, without military interventions, economic exploitation and political meddling, a refugee crisis – at least one of this magnitude – could exist in the first place.
Until this fact is recognized by EU governments, the flow of refugees will continue, raising political tension and contributing to the tragic loss of lives of innocent people, whose only hope is merely to survive.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis’.