The refugee camp Moria is burning. Thousands of people lose everything once again. They are faced with nothing again. I had a similar experience during the Bosnian war.
All over the world people are demonstrating against Corona measures. Thousands take to the streets for this. The topic of refugees is – apparently – not a priority.
But what does it actually mean to be a refugee? Most people in the world are lucky enough to never have to experience this. People cry for help at our gates, we don’t want to hear them. These are people who have come to Europe under the cruellest conditions to seek protection. But they are left to their fate at our borders, under the European flag.
We were malnourished
I have had a similar experience. On July 11, 1995 the city of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina was abandoned by the world public. Thousands of innocent people had to pay for this betrayal with their lives. I was one of the lucky survivors. Hardly anyone knows what it is like to go for days without food, drinking dirty water and having no medical care. We were malnourished, slept together in cellars more often. We all had lice and fleas. Parasite infestation was normal. Bombs and bullets were the order of the day. You just threw yourself on the floor and crawled – to feel reasonably safe.
We fled from one village to another and back to Srebrenica. My mother tried countless times to rescue us from this hell. Escape from the war zone as a woman with two small children was impossible. And if you managed to do so, there was still the danger of being killed on the escape route. Children were separated forever from their parents in this way. Sometimes the children made it out and the parents did not, or vice versa. Escape was hopeless for us. We hoped and waited in vain for someone to rescue us. The world was silent. Our lives were worth nothing.
After we had lost everything and were expelled, we came to Austria under difficult conditions and with danger to our lives. We escaped from hell with the help of a smuggler from Bosnia. We had no personal documents when we were expelled from Srebrenica. Everything had to be applied for again. Nobody thinks of any papers when fleeing. The only thing you want at that moment is to save your life. Everything else is irrelevant.
Fear of deportation
Once we arrived in Austria, we built a new life for ourselves. We have tried to avoid being noticed as migrants as much as possible. The fear of deportation was great. In addition, we were a Muslim minority in a Christian country. It took some time before we could trust non-Muslims. My parents sacrificed everything to give us a good life. We were often asked after our arrival when we would finally go back to Bosnia. The war was over.
Back to where? We had lost everything. Our village had been wiped out. Mines were still buried everywhere in Bosnia. New mass graves with the bodies of our relatives are still being discovered today.
The people who did this to us still live there. They deny any crime and that is where we should go again?
Refugees not welcome
Today I look at the pictures and videos of the refugees in Greece and see myself in them.
Why did I get this chance to build a new life in Austria and they didn’t? Are they not in the same situation as I was then? Their fate is even worse compared to mine. They managed to escape the war, but ended up in a second hell. In the hell called refugee camp.
Austria, and the rest of Europe as well, is developing politically further and further backwards, further and further in the direction of a nationalistic mentality. Racism and xenophobia are now acceptable. And why not, if government leaders can show it off?
Death on the Neck
In our governments there are people who have never suffered a day in their lives. They all had a privileged childhood and grew up that way. None of them thinks even remotely of what it is like to lose everything and have nothing but their own lives. What it is like not to know if you will live to see the next day.
To what extent are the refugees in Greece now better off than in the war zone from which they fled? The only difference is that in the camp they are no longer shot at with ammunition.
When did the world stop seeing refugees as human beings? No one becomes a refugee voluntarily. One is forced to become a refugee. Hardly anyone risks his life and gives up his home, culture and familiar surroundings just to search for a supposed El-Dorado in an unknown country. To leave one’s country is always the last resort. Here in Bosnia the homeland is also called mother. To lose your homeland in this brutal way is almost like losing your own mother.
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