Time for Europe to end the refugee shame

People dying in their dozens – whether crammed into a truck or a ship, en route to seek safety or better lives – is a tragic indictment of European leaders’ failures to provide safe ways to reach Europe. That it is now happening on a daily basis is Europe’s collective shame.

My colleague met a mother of four children from Damascus who clung tightly on to her youngest son amid the booms of stun grenades nearby: “This reminds me of Syria. It scares the children; I never expected to find that in Europe. Never; never,” she said.

Further up the Balkans migration route in Hungary, police this week fired tear gas inside a crowded reception centre, and Hungarian authorities are in the process of erecting a razor wire fence along the border with Serbia to prevent more refugees and migrants from entering.

And Amnesty International has recently visited both Kos and Lesvos, Greek islands on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis. Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are failing to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of people arriving on the island – 33,000 on Lesvos since 1 August alone. As a result, thousands of people, including many Syrian refugees, are staying in squalid conditions.

All these crises are symptoms of the same problem: Europe is not accepting its responsibility in an unprecedented global refugee crisis.

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