Pantelis Boukalas PANTELIS BOUKALAS

An odyssey with no Ithaca

COMMENT

TAGS: Migration

Nothing remains of Palmyra but the shell of a city. This is the conquest of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army when it chased out the barbarians of the so-called Islamic State, both native and European. The shocking images of the ruined city could silence even the most mean-spirited of those in Greece and the rest of Europe who accuse the refugees as opportunists who left their homes for no apparent reason.

Of course such people would only stop their insulting accusations if they were to give up their blind obsessions in the face of stark reality. They are not the only ones to revile the refugees, to hold them in contempt on the basis of the racist criteria they embrace either in undisguised or sly fashion.

There are many traps and dangers waiting for the refugees on their endless odyssey and few are prepared for them all.
They know that the traffickers have no qualms about taking their last euro or selling them leaky boats and phony life jackets.

They suspect that along the way they will come across sundry crooks who will charge 5 euros for a small bottle of water or access to an electrical plug where they can recharge their phones. They’re even prepared for the Western-style fundamentalists who will jeer and throw pig heads at them.

They also know that in every 20 words uttered by politicians who claim sleepless nights over the refugees’ plight, maybe one can be believed.

They are ready to take all of this, and worse, in their stride and to allow themselves to believe in humanity if a stranger gives them a loaf of bread, a woolen hat or a ball for the kids to play with.

What they are not prepared for, spiritually or mentally, is the possibility that they will be tricked or exposed to serious danger by people who appear to support them but are instead addled by the constructs of their own minds and the specters that haunt them. This is the most innocent interpretation to explain the latest effort to trick the refugees who remain trapped at Idomeni that the borders will open, and this is what concerns us here.

Other speculation about dark interests, provocateurs and other such conspiracy theories is the product of other minds and other propagators.

People who are in a state of absolute desperation, trapped in limbo between the nothingness of home and the nothingness of flight, are compelled to believe anything that gives them hope and brings some light into their lives, even if they would recognize it as a false promise looking at it with a clear mind.

Those who claim to stand in solidarity with the refugees but toy with them by cultivating false hopes, those who try to direct them like stage extras in acts of revolt – ostensibly to shame Europe and bring down the fences – simply add to the refugees’ disappointment and despair, and pile injustice on top of injustice.

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