The desperate plight of the Syrian refugees

Published: September 19, 2015
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anwer.mooraj@tribune.com.pk

anwer.mooraj@tribune.com.pk

It’s depressing, isn’t it? Those flashes of media sadism. These days every time you switch on the international news channels, they show you hordes of refugees crossing the oceans in ill-equipped boats or trudging across countries in a bid for a better life. A popular destination is the bloc that doesn’t seem to understand anything anymore — Europe — the place where sandwiches have more than two ingredients.

The migrants come from different parts of the world, victims of strife or man’s inhumanity to man. First it was the Rohingya, and the world learned that the Burmese army had a new Special Forces unit — the Buddhist priests. Currently, it’s the Syrians. The reactions of the Europeans have been mixed and one cannot deny that both moral and humanitarian concerns have been interlaced with considerations of race and religion before a country decided how it should react to requests for asylum. In Asia, the most receptive country has been Turkey that has taken in almost half of the Syrian refugees. Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have also done their bit. In the Gulf, the UAE has taken in 250,000 refugees, while the combined total of oil-rich Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain is a fat zero. That’s what makes the filigree of narrative so compelling.

The surprise is South America, where Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have joined the humanitarian club. In Europe, the Austrians, Germans and Swedes have been most welcoming in accepting applications for asylum. The British and French reception was slower, but it came eventually. And so did the Americans and Canadians who responded favourably, though they took in a trifle.

But it was the snotty-nosed Hungarians who behaved abominably. For them it was a crippling embarrassment. Muslims were not welcome, even if some of them looked like Latvians who had just spent a summer on the Cote d’Azur. The Hungarians pushed every button on the panic switchboard and thought of a number of humiliating ways to irritate the unwanted guests. The refugees were herded into pens and packets of food were thrown over a fence as if they were feeding a pack of Afghan hounds. They used tear gas and water cannon when the mob got rowdy, and packed them like sardines into rolling stock and sent them to the Serbian and Austrian borders. It was bad enough that Hungarian photographers were tripping Syrian children and women before taking their photographs.

But then, the Hungarians were always a murky lot. Even during the Second World War they were up to no good and sent thousands of Jews to labour camps in Poland. Why Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb, wanted to shoot an Austrian Archduke and his wife instead of a Hungarian and start the First World War, I will never know. What is remarkable is that even the Serbs, the chaps who not so very long ago massacred the Bosnians and the Albanians, and had to be taught a lesson by Bill Clinton, bitterly criticised the Hungarians.

The Syrians are in this mess because the world has abandoned them — the United Nations is dysfunctional, Europe has become particularly feeble, America keeps making promises, Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting each other, countries in the Gulf are busy funding terrorist organisations and attracting tourism, the Chinese are sprouting proverbs and Russia, well… the less said about Russia, the better. But I wonder why neither of the two highly popular international news channels, CNN and the BBC, have devoted a special programme to discussing just how the Syrians had gotten into this sordid mess in the first place? Would they start with George W Bush’s blitzkrieg on Iraq? Or the clandestine and arcane funding of the Islamic State?

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Parvez
    Sep 20, 2015 - 12:25AM

    Most of these European countries can accommodate the refugees…..the thing is that the process becomes less painful because they would blend in with the indigenous people and very soon speak the local language and become responsible members of society.Recommend

  • BHAGWAT GOEL
    Sep 20, 2015 - 9:21AM

    MOORAJ SAHIB WHILE THESE REFUGEES IN EUROPE WILL SOON GET HOME AND LARGE ALLOWANCES FOR GOOD LIVING , THEY WOULD SOON BE HATED LOT AS MAJORITY OF THESE REFUGEES ARE SINGLE YOUNG MEN SOME CARRYING IS FLAT.

    LEAVING THIS ASIDE, I AM SAD THAT YOU DID NOT RAISE THE ISSUE OF MUSLIMS BEING REFUGEES FROM ALL OVER. IS IT NOT THE RESULT OF INTOLERANCE OF KAFIRS WHICH RETALIATE. BUT MOSTLY IT IS MUSLIMS KILLING MUSLIMS.

    SYRIA AND YEMEN ARE CLASSIC EXAMPLES.

    SHOULD NOT MUSLIMS OF ALL HUE GET TOGETHER AND ENSURE ‘ LIVE AT LET LIVE’. THE WHOLE THING IS LEADING TO NUCLEAR WW-III; MUSLIMS VS REST.”Recommend

  • James
    Sep 20, 2015 - 9:45AM

    Where is Hafeez Saeed who few years back was offering asylum to Shahruk Khan and his family in Pakistan in case if he feels his life threatened in India…….No such offer to your brethren…?Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Sep 20, 2015 - 10:11AM

    What a condescension to judge European and South American countries based on their humanitarian activities. o easy it is to say, Hungary is a murky country. As if Hungary is responsible for the current crises. What about a bit of introspection. Who’s created this misery? The same set of people who go on a rampage all over the Muslim world at the slightest provocation — especially from the “evil” west. And, of course, they have — we have — no responsibilities towards the refugees. And we shall continue to judge others from our high pedestals.Recommend

  • observer
    Sep 20, 2015 - 10:45AM

    @Parvez:

    the thing is that the process becomes less painful because they would blend in with the indigenous people and very soon speak the local language and become responsible members of society.

    Just like the 7/7 Bombers or may be the Child Groomers did in the past??Recommend

  • Toba Alu
    Sep 20, 2015 - 12:20PM

    BBC and CNN would likely start with the Arab Spring as the first open protests against Assad started only in 2011 after the Tunesian Revolution. Soon after it ended in a civil war in which ISIS and Al Quaeda and many others including governments attempted to achieve their own conflicting goals for geo-political, religious or other reasons. The illegal invasion of Iraq played a role but to suggest that it all started with the Bush wars looks like rewriting history.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Sep 20, 2015 - 5:13PM

    @observer: You are talking of immigrants ( legal and illegal ) ……while here it’s about refugees. Please appreciate the difference between the two.Recommend

  • Sep 20, 2015 - 5:23PM

    @Parvez:
    Sorry it will not happen. These refugees will stick together, make their own ghettos, then mosques, and madarsas, then Sharia Zones and then defy local customs, believes, faith, way of education, way of living and thinking. Recommend

  • Sep 20, 2015 - 5:36PM

    Dear Sir, it is laughable when you say “But it was the snotty-nosed Hungarians who behaved abominably. For them it was a crippling embarrassment. Muslims were not welcome,”
    Tell me why any European country put a drag on their economy and way of peaceful life. If this a shame and snooty-nosed behaviour it is for the FIFTY PLUS Muslim countries around the world who have NOT come with open arms to provide migration facilities to these refugees. What about those who swear and claim to be leaders of great UMMAH. Why these refugees did not run by land to surrounding Muslim countries and chose the dangerous journey by dinghy to cross the ocean?
    Pray this be please published.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Sep 20, 2015 - 11:23PM

    @VINOD: I beg to differ…….your blinkered bias stops you from seeing that these are SYRIAN refugees……people who were content in their homeland but now forced to flee for their LIVES.
    Take another look at them….I will go out on a limb here and say they will be an asset to the countries that accept them.Recommend

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