I don’t know anything about refugees, whites, blacks, Arabs or what makes Paul different from Mary. I only know human beings. So, when I hear someone calling me a “refugee”, I laugh and feel strong, because it sounds like “survivor” to me.
Everywhere in the world, there are crimes, diseases, wars and other conditions that force people to leave their countries in order to survive. They become refugees and are treated in a humiliating way here in Greece. It can happen to anyone.
Who would have imagined a war – as is now happening between Ukraine and Russia – taking place in prestigious and remarkable Europe, as the media portrays it! But it is the war that forces people from those countries to go to neighbouring countries in order to survive. This is also true of some parents who send their kids on their own to other countries in order to save their lives.
I think these images will change the minds of Europeans, who believe that “damaged” refugees – as they call Africans and Arabs – are coming to Europe seeking wealth and comfort.
No one leaves their country just for fun. So, it irritates me when I see that 85% of people from Pakistan, among them kids and unaccompanied minors, are refused asylum for unspecified reasons, even though they come from a country at war and with difficult climate conditions – reasons that are sometimes sufficient enough to grant asylum.
But Arabs, in general, are referred to as criminals most of the time. Why? This is prejudice and should not be a factor in deciding if someone receives asylum or not. But because this happens and many asylum seekers get to hear about it, they are obliged to lie about their stories for their application for asylum to be accepted.
Not to mention the discrimination! Right now with the Ukrainian war, you can hear people in the media saying “Let’s help our brothers from Ukraine!”. If this is not dealt with in the correct way, there will be inequality between refugees. And refugees from other countries might lose the support they deserve, such as financial support for single mothers and families or appropriate accommodation. For example, it is not a solution to transfer minors or adults to camps, where the living conditions are horrible, simply in order to create space for European refugees in hotels or shelters.
I can’t imagine the amount of mental health damage that will be caused by this discrimination against people, depending on where they come from. Imagine a kid being here without his family or parents and being sent to these camps, abandoned to their own fate (because we all know the conditions in the camps).
This could cause even more trauma and instability to those people who are asking not much more than care, healing and empowerment.
I stand for equality. I hope and dream that one day when we speak of conditions of survival, we will banish the terms “refugees”, “asylum seekers”, and “immigrants”, and think just about acting united as human beings.