From Suffering to Solidarity: A Palestinian Response to EU Refugee Crisis

(Photo by Hadje Cresencio Sadje, 2016)

EU and Turkey Deal

The 28 EU heads of state and Turkey government signed an agreement on the refugee crisis on March 20, 2016. Certainly, the deal has been divisive among European citizens. The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal aims to response on the massive flow of smuggled migrants and asylum seekers traveling across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands (Lesvos, Chios, etc.,). Some of these migrants and asylum seekers arrived dead or alive in Greek soars. The deal sought to urge Greek government to deport “all new irregular migrants” back to Turkey. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 1, 0011,700 migrants arrived by sea in 2015, and almost 34,900 by land in Europe. Most of EU refugees are fleeing from war, persecution, and poverty.

EU Refugees stock up in limbo

Today, most of EU refugees were forced to stay in the overcrowded and closed camps. EU refugees suffer from social exclusion and social isolation. After EU-Turkey deal puts asylum seekers stock up in limbo — -a life of waiting for their applications. EU refugee’s everyday life is like a rat race. EU refuges stock up with no job, uncertain future, no freedom of movement, live in a constant fear of xenophobia, and live in poor housing conditions. EU refugee camp conditions vary wildly in their size and ethnicity. Now, some of rejected asylum seekers and refugees send back to Turkey. In the era ruled by a powerful corporate elite, only the strongest species survive. The mantra, “survival of the fittest” of social Darwinist neoliberalism spread among Western technocrats. For example, powerful corporate elite with its constant calls for free market competition and adaptation forces itself on everyone and transformed our society into a jungle. Since, European nations are highly competitive, refugees facing different forms of challenges in the new social setting. For refugees, the right for citizenship is paramount important but refugees need to be competitive in order to survive in the European countries. As being an EU refugee, seeking for citizenship is against all odds and it is like to be stock up in limbo. In the culture of competition, people were cut off from community life. In the case of EU refugees, most of them, were marginalized and stigmatized.

Palestinian Response to EU Refugee Crisis

Racism, marginalization and discrimination turn lives upside down. But that’s simply not true for Humanity Crew. When EU refugee crisis broke out in 2015 massive boatloads of refugees and migrants made their risky journey to Europe to seek asylum, traveling across the Mediterranean Sea that overwhelmed the European heads of state. This crisis evoked a sense of solidarity among Palestinians in 2015. The Humanity Crew responds to this crisis by organizing and recruiting volunteer Palestinian doctors, psychologists, and young professionals from Galilee to give psycho-socio interventions for refugee children. They believe that socio-cultural backgrounds of the EU refugees are one of the bloodlines of the organization.

An exceptional response

This newly organizes Palestinian aid agency is so exceptional. Why? No country in the world was not informed about the Palestinian’s suffering under the occupation of the Zionist state of Israel. Although Palestinians suffering takes many forms, ADALAH 2011 report reveal that legal, political and policy structures that institutionalize discrimination against the Palestinian minority in Israel, and entrench inequalities between Palestinian and Jewish citizens. Imagine, Palestinians who are marginalized have relatively little control over their lives, their resources, their own ancestral land, and often stigmatised. This remarkable response from Palestinians is commendable. Knowing they had a several trial and difficult conditions, they had also passion to reaching out to those in need. Despite the fact that they had very little, “survival of the fittest” is not their vocabulary. Human solidarity is their top priority. Humanity Crew’s volunteers do not allow their long-standing struggles and difficult conditions limit their moral commitment. Being a Palestinian agency, their vision and mission are beyond their geographic and religious identities. The refugee children in Greek islands are victims of war who have benefited from Humanity Crew psycho-socio intervention assistance. Inspired by one of the co-founders Dr. Essam Daod’s concerned on especially Arabic-speaking background refugees in Greece, they have been moved by the organisation’s sincerity and passion that they are now taking a leap to give back and be of help to other people in need. For almost a decade of censorship, the Humanity Crew challenge pinkwashing of Isreal, distorted imagery, and terminology used by Western mass media about Palestinians. By doing so, the Humanity Crew has established a strong reputation for its humanitarian work in rapid-onset EU refugee crisis.

The Challenge to Global Muslim Community

After the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, it is clear that there were only two solutions for EU refugee crisis: live in overcrowded refugee camps or being deported to Turkey. According to United Nations, more than 1 million people crossed into European continent illegally since 2015, with the vast majority of them qualifying as bona fide political refugees. The UNHCR reported that series of shipwrecks and capsizings last week now appears to have claimed at least 880 lives. In the latest data of Missing Migrant Project, there were 242, 179 arrivals by sea in 2016 (compared with 1, 0011,712 arrivals in 2015) 3, 034 migrant deaths/missing in the Mediterranean Sea. These shocking figures of arrivals and fatalities of migration flow in European continent is unbelievable. Sadly, it seems that the world is not aware of this global tragedy. One might ask, why is this tragedy not in the headlines? Perhaps, people were already accepted it as part of our everyday lives. Certainly, the Humanity Crew’s response shows something “challenging” to the Muslim community around the world, especially to richest Muslim countries. The Humanity Crew able to turn their suffering into solidarity and productivity. It is a testimony to their strong sense of human solidarity, uphold human dignity, and nurturing global community (Ummah). It is a call for Muslims everywhere to act hand and hand to express solidarity for refugees in all forms.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member of the Center for Palestine Studies-SOAS University of London UK. He is currently a master student at the Protestant Theological University-Groningen. Mr. Sadje is currently a volunteer human rights observer in Lesvos, Greece under the program of the Christian Peacemaker Team.