We are seeing mass movement of people on a Biblical scale. The largest movement we have seen since the Second World War.
The hot spots are Syria, Iraq and Libya. Countries that have imploded, that exist in name only, and when they did exist, they were artificial constructs, lines on a map drawn by the British and the French.
Not all are war-weary refugees, carrying their few wordily possessions. Many are from across Africa, from the Far East, willing to risk their lives to enter Europe for what they see as a better life.
The focus was in France, the camp known as the Jungle, migrants terrifying drivers trying to cross the English Channel.
A new route has opened up, maybe it was there all the time, but has become the focus of world attention. the crossing from Turkey to Greece.
Hungary has come in for a lot of stick, but all they were trying to do, was adhere to the rules, process the migrants, decide who was legit, who was not, but they have been overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, as has Greece.
Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
The only obligation is to grant sanctuary on the first country of safety. For those fleeing Syria and Iraq, that is Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. But these countries are overwhelmed.
Christians fled Baghdad, as was not safe. They fled to Minerva. Minerva was overrun by ISIS. They fled to Kurdistan, Syria. Syria no longer safe. Many have fled to Jordan.
How many killed in Palestine by the Israelis homes destroyed. The world turns a blind eye. An arms fair was recently held in London, to which flock the brutal dictators of the world armed with their shopping lists.
It has taken the body of a three-year old boy, washed ashore in Turkey, to stir the conscience of the world.
Political leaders paralysed. It has taken the people to act.
People have been driving across the Hungarian border to transport refugees on the long walk, only to be warned they will be arrested for people trafficking.
The Pope has asked that every singe Parish takes in a refugee family.
People have shown they are willing to help.
But whilst the are helping those who have made it to Europe, they may have made it far worse for those who have not.
People are being pushed by the conditions in their country. They are also being pulled by the El Dorado of Europe, the land of milk and honey, the streets paved with gold. If people now falsely believe that if they can reach Europe they will be allowed to stay, will now risk their lives. An act of kindness will result in many millions risking their lives, many more children washed ashore.
And what we are seeing now, is nothing like what we will see when climate change kicks in. One of the roots of the crisis on Syria is a drought of many years in Syria, forcing people from the countryside into the cities.
Since the uprising against Assad in March 2011, over 240,000 people have been killed, 4 million Syrians have fled their country, and over 7 million have been displaced.
Giles Fraser says let them all come, Green Party says no borders. Let us assume insanity prevails and we let them all in. Our cities will become like those in the Third World, surrounded by shanty towns.
Figures are bandied about. Many of which are false, as no one bothers to check, they simply regurgitate what they read, maybe in the hope that if regurgitated often enough, will become an accepted truth.
UK has accepted 260 (or is it 270) Syrian refugees. Will fill a Tube train, we are told.
Actually several hundred will fill a Tube train, but putting this to one side, the figure is from one programme. 5,000 Syrian refugees have been accepted from different programmes.
Germany will accept 800,000 migrants. This figure is not true.
800,000 is a projection of migrants into Germany, many of whom will be sent back. It is not how many Germany will accept. This is all migrants, not only from Syria, it includes migrants from Albania.
Germany has accepted 10-20,000 over one weekend. Germany Austria and Hungary have said this was due to exceptional circumstances, and are now tightening their restrictions.
Germany has said it may accept more migrants. This should be seen within the context of a projected labour shortage in Germany.
Germany now cannot cope. Munich cannot cope. Germany closed its borders, quickly followed by Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia.
One of the many ironies is the refusal of Israel to accept any Syrian refugees. Did not Free Europe take those Jews fleeing Nazi Occupied Europe? But then maybe a mixed blessing, as they would only house them on stolen Palestinian land.
And what of the wealthy Gulf States? We do not see the corrupt House of Saud welcoming refugees, and yet it is their meddling in the Middle East that has helped cause the refugee crisis.
For Syrians, be they in Turkey or Lebanon, or hoipng for a better life in Europe, they have no home to go to, many have walked for days, weeks, been on the move for years.
Syria and Palestine, resemble Germany in 1945.
The obligation of any country, is to provide safe sanctuary. That does not imply refugees can demand which country they be taken to.
The Law of Unintended Consequences, may well lead to more migrants dying as they engage in perilous journeys, the only ones to benefit being the people traffickers.
One option may be to create a safe haven in Libya, access to the sea, materials to build houses, a plot to grow food, a sharing gift economy.
To stop the flow of migrants the underlying causes have to be addressed. This is not a European problem, it is a problem of the Middle East.
In Syria, a tyrant to be deposed, ISIS to be defeated.
Yes, as Jeremy Cobyn has suggested, a meeting of all parties, talks (which David Cameron has dismissed out of hand). ISIS will not talk. They are an insurgency and can only be defeated by military means, which as a start, means arming the Kurds and providing whatever military support they request.
What was feared would happen, is already happening. Given the green light, you will be able to stay if you make the trip, tens of thousands are now making the trip. The transit countries are being overwhelmed by marauding migrant mobs. When officials try to process the migrants they are being met by violence.
Meanwhile, those left behind, the ones who are really suffering, are forgotten.
Until November last year Canon Andrew White, better known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, was Chaplain of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, the only Anglican Church in Iraq. He was eventually forced to leave at the behest of the Archbishop of Canterbury following numerous death threats from ISIS militants, and now works as the founding and current President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME).
In a scathing statement, Canon White has now slammed Europe for its response to the migrant crisis. He says it is wrong to focus resources on those already in Europe, when those in real need are the ones left behind.
I am disappointed by Europe’s response to the refugee crisis. Not enough is being done to help the most vulnerable, particularly those who have fled religious persecution.
My charity is providing food, shelter and medicine for hundreds of Iraqi refugee families who have fled ISIS and are now in Jordan. Some have walked across the desert to find safety, with little more than the clothes on their backs.
When I see angry young men clashing with border police in Hungary and demanding to be let into other EU countries, I feel that the wrong people are at the front of the queue.
Europe needs to distinguish between those who are looking for a better life and those who are running for their lives, otherwise we risk failing those who need our help the most.
I would like to see more being done for the thousands of refugees, particularly Iraqi refugees, who are stranded in Jordan and other countries without any hope for the future.
Canon Andrew White is not the only one urging Europe to look beyond the migrants on their doorstep to the wider picture.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I told the Vatican Insider that there was “something strange” about European politicians encouraging migrants into their countries to take jobs in the care industry, looking after the sick and elderly.
I can confirm that it is not just displaced people who are fleeing. Priests tell me that there are also people who aren’t too badly off financially, people who work at banks for example, who are leaving. People who don’t really need to leave. They feel that a window of opportunity has opened up and they fear this window will soon close so they take advantage of it. Meanwhile, those who are poorer aren’t even considering leaving. Everyone is losing out. Those who are most able are leaving and they are the only ones who could rebuild all that has been destroyed in recent years.
Writing in the Spectator, Paul Collier pointed out the moral ambivalence of ushering into our countries to the “richer and more resourceful” refugees, rather than encouraging them to stay and rebuild their own countries.
If you resist the easy option taken by the chattering classes who claim the moral high ground by insisting on open borders, you can see that European policy is the result of moral confusion.
Let’s take the ‘duty of rescue’, which is official Europe’s rationale for fishing people out of the sea. People have a right to dream of a life in Europe, but Europe has a moral obligation to rescue, not to make dreams come true.
What does rescue imply and to whom does it apply? Just being poor does not make someone eligible for being ‘rescued’ by a life in Europe. Mass poverty has to be tackled, but the only way it can be done is for poor countries to catch up with the rich ones. There are ways in which we can help that process, but encouraging the mass emigration of their most enterprising young people is not one of them.