No Place to Go


Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

“The overcrowding is so extreme that asylum seekers spend as much as 12 hours a day waiting in line for food that is sometimes moldy. Last week, there were about 80 people for each shower, and around 70 per toilet, with aid workers complaining about raw sewage leaking into tents where children are living. Sexual assaults, knife attacks and suicide attempts are common.” From New York Times article ‘Better to Drown’: A Greek Refugee Camp’s Epidemic of Misery

The conditions at Camp Moria in Greece on the island of Lesbos are beyond belief.  Many of these refugees fled from war in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan only to find themselves still on a battlefront of another kind. The relentless pressure of daily living just to get food, or hospital treatment has interfered with their ability to follow up their asylum application appointments.

The camp houses 9,000, way beyond the intended capacity of 3,100.  Where it was once a stop on the way to resettlement, it has turned into a bureaucratic morass. The countries that the refugees hoped to reach have tightened their borders or closed them altogether, leaving them with no place to go.

This article asks: where did the aid money go? In five years, €1.1 billion has already been paid out to house, feed and support these refugees. There has been an investigation into this matter, but the article didn’t come to any real conclusion.  The money went to 20 governmental and non-governmental organizations. In my opinion, the lack of oversight can cause this misery to be prolonged.

How can there be a better outcome?  How is it that relief efforts in places like Haiti’s earthquake, or Puerto Rico’s hurricane keep falling short?  Inside each effort are those who have integrity, have the experience and do an excellent job.  I couldn’t name them for certain, but I would trust Samaritan’s Purse a whole lot more than many other NGO’s  I would trust agencies that have a good track record of leaning into what God would have them do, rather than human effort alone. Giving away aid money without the community’s relationship, the vendor/helper’s personal integrity, and strong accountability can cause more serious harm than help.

To stem the refugee tide? I wonder about the possibility of a neutral zone in the country where the war takes place where families and communities build their own safe and temporary housing.  But I don’t know what happens if the war fighters mingle with the innocent civilians.  But this article does mention negotiations have slowed the refugee migration. On a human level this seems impossible, but with God’s intervention, with more people of integrity that carry Jesus’ wisdom, there’s clearly a way better than anything the world has to offer.

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