Fire ravages Moria camp, already unfit for human habitation
In the night of Wednesday, September 9th, the refugee camp Moria on Lesbos burned down. Nearly 13,000 refugees, about a third of them minors, and about half of them children under the age of twelve, had to flee from the flames - now exposed to nature and left more or less to their own devices.
The refugee camp, which was designed for 2,900 camp inmates, was 'home' to about 13,000 refugees. When news of the Corona infection of some inmates spread and a quarantine was ordered by the authorities, the fire broke out shortly afterwards. The authorities accused refugees unwilling to quarantine of setting the fire.
The politicians speak of a humanitarian catastrophe, but in reality they themselves set the tinder to the fire.
The fact is that for years the EU has been pursuing a refugee policy of closed borders, blocking the Balkan route, confining refugees in camps, repatriating illegally apprehended refugees, deterring refugees in boats on the Mediterranean by not accepting or delaying acceptance of refugees rescued from the sea, etc.
This policy of wall-building, sealing off and deportations is not limited to the EU; it is pursued by the USA - long before Trump promised his "beautiful wall" - as well as by countless other countries.
According to official figures, 80 million people worldwide are on the run, desperately in search of a place to live and a future.
Meanwhile the permanent gigantic refugee camps of the Rohingya in Bangladesh, the Somali refugees in Kenya (Dadaab), in Sudan, in Libya, or the smaller camps e.g. at the French coast opposite England, have become an everyday reality - in addition to the countless people who have fled because of increasing political and economic chaos, as in Venezuela, or environmental destruction and ecological disaster, and contribute to the rapid growth of the slums in the mega-cities of Africa, South America and Asia.
Refugee camps and slums in the metropolises are two faces of a spiral of destruction, wars, barbarism. In addition, the reign of terror (e.g. against Uighurs, Kurds, etc.) and pogroms in many areas make life hell for more and more people.
Only a small part of this mass of displaced people has made it to the coasts of the Mediterranean or to the borders of the USA, where they hope to find a way to reach the industrialised countries, nearly always at the risk of their lives.
But the ruling class has closed the borders. Gone are the days when slaves were stolen from Africa and exploited without limits on plantations in the USA, gone are the days when they paid premiums for cheap labour from the Mediterranean, as in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the global economy is groaning under the economic crisis - and not just since the Corona Pandemic, when everything deteriorated dramatically once again. Today, mainly well-trained workers are selectively recruited...the rest are supposed to perish.
Capitalism can offer nothing to this army of millions of desperate people
Because the combination of various factors (war, environmental destruction, economic crisis, repression, catastrophes of all kinds) is driving more and more people to flee, and a considerable number of them will make their way towards industrial centres, the greatest possible levels of deterrence have been established. Thus the German government advisor Gerald Knaus of the European Stability Initiative reported on 10 September on the German state radio station Deutschlandfunk: "The Greek refugee minister Notis Mitarakis says that people should stay in Moria or on Lesbos. The camp has burned down, the people have no shelter, they sit on the streets, that is the total loss of control. (...) And yet the Greek government is not demanding outside support. Why? The answer is obvious. These bad conditions are deliberate. This is a policy of deterrence.
On the island the tensions are enormous. Greek nationalists have attacked aid organisations. There are radical groups that also attack asylum seekers. (...) Getting people away quickly is in the interest of the island, in the interest of the migrants. Why are they being held there when they know (...) none of these people will be sent back to Turkey. (...) There are practically no more deportations due to the Corona restrictions. (...) This means that we have very, very many people in need of protection and very, very many irregular migrants (...) who are detained for a single reason: as a deterrent”. The closure of the Balkan route is intended to “prevent people from leaving Greece at the northern border, which only makes sense if you then say that the people in Greece should experience such bad conditions there that the influx into Greece, i.e. into the EU, stops”. An obvious consequence: unbearable conditions not only in the refugee camps, but also for the local inhabitants, some of whom then defend themselves violently against the refugees. The refugees then face barbed wire, armed state power and violence from nationalist gangs…
The same policy is also pursued off the coast of Italy, where refugees rescued from unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean Sea are to be prevented from reaching the European mainland for as long as possible.
This deterrent tactic is, by the way, presented to potential refugees in the social media by German and other European governmental institutions in Africa and other refugee strongholds. The message is: "We will detain you as long as possible, as brutally, as inhumanely as possible like prisoners and let you die miserably in even worse refugee camps than in Africa and Asia, surrounded by barbed wires and fortifications; stay where you are, even if you have no home anymore".
When politicians speak of a "humanitarian catastrophe" in this situation, they cover up the fact that these people are in reality a hostage of the politics of this system, which is defended by the ruling class by all means and in all countries.
Eastern Mediterranean: The global impasse of capitalism concentrated in one region
The eastern Mediterranean is also a focal point of capitalism's destructive tendencies: a century ago Turkey and Greece fought each other in a war that saw the first organised ethnic cleansing; now the two imperialist rivals are facing each other again over the dispute over gas and oil resources in the region. But in addition to the threat of war in the region, capitalism is also threatening the people through the economic crisis and explosions like those in Beirut, factors that will drive even more people to flee.
Ruthlessness of the rulers hidden behind fine phrases
The infamy in the attitude of the ruling class is not diminished by pretending to show a little "mercy" to the "weaker" among the refugees. It is only after certain forces from the bourgeois parties' own ranks, concerned about the loss of prestige of the Western democracies, exerted pressure, and after local administrations showed their willingness to accept a limited contingent, that France and Germany called for 400 "unaccompanied" young people to be allowed to enter. And after almost a week of delaying tactics, 1500 children and their families will be allowed to enter Germany. The remaining 10,000 from Moria will languish in Greece – not to mention the many other thousands stuck in in other refugee camps on Greek islands. The rulers hide behind their fear of the populists or the heads of state in Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands and Austria, who are unwilling to accept refugees. No country can shoulder the fate of the refugees alone – and under this pretext, they insist on a uniform European approach.
In fact, they do not want to attract a new wave of refugees like in 2015, and they do not want to allow the populists to continue their upsurge. The Greek government prefers to lock up the refugees who are now surviving in the open in newly built camps instead of allowing them to enter the mainland, from where camp inmates could then continue to flee. The rulers in the EU have diligently learned from all the textbooks on the construction of camps from Guantanamo, Siberia, special camps in the GDR or Xinjiang. Prevent escape at all costs, deterrence by all means! Their actions are not guided by the need to protect the wretched, but by their need to hold on to power. And they defend this rule with all means, whether by building impassable borders and prison camps, or by the fine phrases of democracy and humanitarianism. The repression of protesters in Belarus, Putin's assassination squads or the Uighur prison camps in Xinjiang are being denounced by the Europeans, but they themselves have been cooperating with these regimes for years, even if at times the cooperation - especially armament contracts - is postponed or even cancelled.
In the U.S. the Democrats and Republicans with Trump at their head condemn China's dictatorial methods, which in Hong Kong uses masked snatch squads against protesters, but Washington sends the National Guard assisted by masked snatch squads of the American police, which also kidnap protesters in camouflaged cars. Whether Lukashenko in Belarus, Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Xi Jinping in China, Trump in the USA, etc. - they all defend their system and power mercilessly and with means that are often exactly the same.
Humanitarian solutions are eyewash – we have to get to the root of the problem!
It is futile to count on the mercy of the rulers, and it is at best a dangerous illusion to believe that the problems that capitalism confronts us with can be eradicated through humanitarian rescue operations.
The demand "No borders, no nation" takes up a real concern, but it can only be realised through a revolutionary struggle which will abolish all states. Therefore it is not enough to show indignation about the barbaric conditions facing refugees. The first step must be to recognize where the evil comes from and then to call it by its name. Only then can we get to the root of the problem, and that means attacking capitalism and all its mechanisms.