Eu Closes Balkan Route to Migrants

Yesterday, March 9, 2016, the various European Union countries virtually closed the so-called Balkan route for migrants fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, among others.

Hungary declared a state of emergency, which means, among other things, an increase of 1500 soldiers to control the borders of their own country, blocking the passage.

Macedonia, in turn, armored the border with Greece, by cutting off any possibility of crossing the boundaries between the two countries, as Serbia and Croatia had done so in recent months.

Meanwhile, more than 40 thousand people are blocked in Greece, not counting those who every day are still landing on its coast. They are mostly war refugees or famine refugees desperately seeking to enter the European continent in search of a new life.

It is, of course, a growing crowd and contained in the middle of a double barrier: on one side, unable to go forward; on the other, prevented from returning to the points of origin, in which often they expect persecution and death, if not misery and also the “death little by little.”

Turkey requested financial aid from the European Union to exercise stricter control over the passage of migrants through their territory. In fact, millions of migrants and Syrian refugees, for example (but not only!) expect to go out there to continue the path towards the European countries.

Amid this so complex context, coyotes – “merchants of human flesh” – take advantage of the vulnerable population, where the number of women and unaccompanied minors grows fast.

What is expected from the immediate or distant future?  Hard to predict! There are talks, for example, of a new route that, from Greece, reach Albania, to jump on to Italy, where the migration policy is more “humane.”

In Brussels, the meetings of representatives of European countries authorities multiply “vertices”, but fear seems to prevail, the unknown threat, deportation and other “precautionary measures,” not to mention the confusion the media and the public opinion make between migration, asylum, human trafficking, terrorism and organized crime.

The idea of criminalization of migration takes root, grows and expands in the streets, squares and public opinion in general

Fr. Alfredo J. Gonçalves, cs

Rome, March 10, 2016