Let me tell you something else that I thought of, my friend
People leave their homes when they no longer have hope for survival, when they are afraid to sleep at night, when their children go to the bakery to buy bread and they are unsure if they will come home unharmed, when they cannot sit by the window in fear of a bullet hitting them. This situation, my friend, is what forces people to choose the path of exile and become refugees or migrants, and endure all the difficulties of that journey.
But where can you go? How can you reach Europe on foot? By hanging beneath trucks, that’s how. Of course, travelling in first class like that costs a fortune. If you are short on money, then you have to sell your house or your fields to the exploiters of these situations. Then, crossing the borders carries the risk of being shot by the guards. Who cares about your situation and who will help you in this whole process? Why would anyone risk his life for you, unless he has some ulterior motive or something to gain from all this? Although I may be your friend and care about you, to the exploiter you are nothing. There is always the possibility of falling asleep and the next day (if there is a next day for you) waking up with only one of your kidneys.
If you are lucky, you will arrive in a host country, for example, Greece. A country of culture, democracy and development; a country with a 25% unemployment rate and with essentially a nonexistent host system; a country that in a very short while, can make you too, nonexistent.
So far so good! Congratulations on your arrival. Now you have to acquire your legitimacy on earth. What are the procedures for doing so? My friend, you must know that the only way is by applying for asylum. But how can someone apply for asylum? Applications are made through Skype, twice a week, an hour at a time; connecting is like hitting the jackpot. But you are not alone in this quest; there are 60,000 others like you who are trying to make exactly the same request. If you manage to place your request, the process will not take more than six months because the Asylum Service has its own difficulties to face, yet another result of Greece’s cumbersome system.
Ah I almost forgot! Be careful not to get caught by the police! How is that even possible? Because, on one hand, you’ve been trying to arrange your legitimacy for six months without any result and on the other hand the police tells you “If you get caught again, I will deport you!”. And you do not want to be deported. You fear for your life in your country, just like me, my friend, because it’s dangerous there. Until you manage to submit your request for international or subsidiary protection, many other areas of your everyday life will be significantly hindered. Because of the difficulty of making the request, you will not be able to rent a house or to work anywhere since you won’t have a work permit. This results in enormous difficulties in your financial situation, and thus in your welfare. Moreover, you are deprived of the right to transact with the public services and the country’s banks.
This means you will not be able to satisfy your basic needs and will become very vulnerable to forms of exploitation – labor or criminal. And what is society’s view of you and me through the lens of media propaganda? They say we are people of the street, homeless, thieves, drug addicts, criminals, uncivilized foreigners who came to steal jobs from the locals. You shouldn’t be afraid of those characterizations; these are things we have heard before, about a decade ago, during the first immigration wave of Albanians, remember my friend?
People have no idea that this is the only chance you have to live someday with dignity; and to manage, even for a moment, to stay upright. Because beyond all the practical problems, my friend, there are also the equally important psychological factors. In fact, and I say this without any exaggeration, you will experience a growing psychological insecurity and disruption. Every single day you will feel completely excluded my friend, since typically you do not have any right as a resident of Greece. When such injustices are imposed on human souls who are doing their best to survive the destruction caused by a certain kind of “human”, the host countries should look at the problem in depth and should consider all aspects before taking action. The host country’s solutions should be substantive, not frivolous; focusing on the wellbeing of the people in the long run, not just acting without caring what will happen to them the next day. Isn’t that right, my friend?
Written by Nadir Noori | Translated by Margarita Christoforatou | Edited by Gigi Papoulias
photo credits: Nadir Noori