Another day, yet another atrocity hurled from the maelstrom of conflict in the Middle East, the turmoil which has also resulted in over half of Syria’s people being killed or forced to flee their homes to become refugees. In the evening I attend a performance at the Liverpool Everyman of Queens of Syria, a remarkable touring production, performed by Syrian women from a refugee camp in Amman, which weaves the women’s own stories of exile and war into passages from the ancient Greek play The Trojan Women, theatre’s earliest dramatisation of the plight of women in war.
Earlier this week I watched the BBC documentary trilogy, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, which told the stories of some of the refugees in last year’s huge movement of people fleeing disaster – on dinghies crossing from Turkey to Greece, along the migrant trail through the Balkans, and in the Jungle at Calais – filmed along the way by those same people on mobile phones.
After a referendum campaign which seemed to establish the expression of racist or anti-immigrant sentiment as respectable once more, these three films gave voice to those who have truly lost their homeland, in stark contrast to those in this country who, having ‘wanted to get their country back’, now truly believe that’s what they have achieved. Continue reading “Stories of exile: Queens of Syria, Exodus and the Very Quiet Foreign Girls’ Poetry Group”
Last week was Refugee Week, though you wouldn’t have known it in a country now obsessed with borders and controls and frighteningly comfortable with demonising outsiders. I only learnt about it from the estimable Passing Time blog. The day after the appalling referendum result we sat down to watch Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi’s strange but compelling documentary which observes the impact of the refugee crisis on the island of Lampedusa with a calm and unembroidered stare. Continue reading “Fire at Sea: life goes on while a human catastrophe unfolds at sea”
Europe is facing a wave of migration unmatched since the end of World War II – and no one has reported on this crisis in more depth or breadth than the Guardian’s migration correspondent, Patrick Kingsley. In today’s Guardian, Kingsley offers an impassioned overview of Europe’s collective response to the refugee crisis. This is how he begins: Continue reading “We walk together? Europe’s failure on refugees echoes the moral collapse of the 1930s”
This week EU leaders agreed a new deal on migrants with Turkey. At its heart is a ‘one in, one out’ agreement that will allow one Syrian from a Turkish refugee camp to be resettled in the EU for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece. For non-Syrians, the route to Europe is entirely cut off.
Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council, has described the deal as a ‘breakthrough’ and ‘historic’. But in a new post on his Pandemonium blog, the writer and author of The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics, Kenan Malik calls it ‘immoral and unworkable’. His post offers a forthright analysis of the deal, and is reproduced below. Continue reading “EU migration policy: ‘immoral and unworkable’”
This year’s Guardian charity appeal has already raised over a million pounds for six charities that provide emergency aid, food and shelter for refugees on their ‘unarmed road of flight’ from violence and persecution. Today, Zoe Williams’ report from Lesbos included this: Continue reading “Refugees: Europe did more in 1945”
A warning from the United Nations special representative for international migration and two photo essays by photographers covering the refugee crisis on Lesbos alert to the scale and tragic nature of a disaster unprecedented in its size and scope. Continue reading “Like a war zone … ‘A cemetery of souls’ on Lesbos”
Yesterday we gathered together a few sacks of winter clothing – heavy sweaters, thick trousers, waterproof gear, that sort of thing – and stuffed a donation into an envelope. There’s a van leaving Liverpool this weekend, bound for Greece, driven by volunteers from Mersey Aid. That heavy sweater I no longer wear because the climate change winters here are always warm may end up on the back of someone like me – a teacher from Homs, or a medic from Damascus. So little we can do as individuals.
Today the Guardian website features a comprehensive and deeply worrying overview of the refugee crisis. In Winter is coming: the new crisis for refugees in Europe, Guardian journalists report on the deepening humanitarian crisis that is unfolding along the refugee trail from the war-torn Middle East as winter sets in – from the Greek island of Lesbos to the Macedonian border and beyond. Continue reading “Winter is coming: the new crisis for refugees in Europe”