Personal impressions from Kara Tepe, on Lesbos

It is quite a challenge to report objectively about our work, about everything we experience here, people here, in the European Union have to suffer.

When I sit here in our warm accommodation, knowing that Helga and I are going to cook something good for us, the wood crackling in the stove, then I am convinced that it will only be possible to make you understand the reality of these unimaginable human rights violations with a certain amount of emotion. We are born in peace, despite all our personal problems/challenges, which each of us has and which we also want to take seriously in goodwill towards each other. We live in a social environment, most of us, thank God, do not know the feeling of hunger, for the children no clothes, no warm place to sleep, a small plastic cup of food a day, cold.

I can talk about it objectively now.

I can ask the question why we have a Chancellor who starts talking about starving children in "Tumpuktu" when here, in a country of the European Union, children/newborns have neither nappies, nor clothes appropriate to the season, let alone breakfast, lunch and dinner?

I can also objectively ask why we have a Minister of the Interior who unpleasantly manages all of our tax money, in that the large-scale relief supplies for people in greatest need, financed by all of us, simply do not end up where they should be and are urgently needed?

I can also raise the debate as to why we only saw a delegation of MEPs from the European Union here on the ground a few months ago in fair weather, and now, when the situation is becoming more than dramatic without exaggeration, no one is to be found at Camp Kara Tepe and everyone is giving their opinions, proposals, promises from their offices as to what could be done now, probably in a few months' time, when the winter is over.

Helga and I not only spend time in the camp, but Helga works extremely hard, together with Sarah in the warehouse of Home For All, sorting, packing, while I do the daily kitchen shopping at the Cash and Carry, buying things we are missing, like Pampers, powdered milk, hygiene items, etc.

And then there is the work that one also has to do as a member of a group of different NGOs and as an activist. Enquiries and talks with friendly NGOs, initiatives that are all doing the same thing. #LeaveNoOneBehind, #Courage, #WeHavePlace, etc. It is incredibly empowering to be embedded in this community, because this madness here on the ground can only be stopped in the WE. Heartfelt thanks to all who are doing something about this in Austria!

And the "political" work:

Almost as gruelling as the misery here. I get calls from all kinds of political offices, from LH people, parliamentarians, etc.. They read my letters with great consternation, they see the seriousness of the situation (I'm not sure), but I will understand that a public statement is not possible. Should I understand that?

The only reasonable contact persons at the moment are MEP Dr Bettina Vollath, S&D, MEP Dr Steffi Krisper, NEOS and MEP Katharina Kucharowits, SPÖ. Thank you very much for your consistent thinking, for your open ear and for your actions.

And now for the emotion:

How do you think we should feel when we witness this massive suffering of people every day? I can't just put away my feelings about it, my powerlessness, my anger and my sadness. I don't want to. I want to remain human. I want to keep my heart open for women on the run, who shortly before giving birth have no idea where this child will be born on their search for shelter. In the cold tent, instead of Herod, there is the EU, or proud right-wing members of government like Sebastian Kurz, Karl Nehammer.

I want to feel for children who, having fled war and terror, are deprived of years of carefree childhood, of a sense of security in a community, of schooling, and instead are walking around in broken slippers in November. I want to feel for 16-year-old young Afghans who have fled their homeland in the face of terror and corruption and who are now being told they are of age so that they can be deported to a country at war without any problems. And I want to show compassion for a society, mine, that stands by silently, or arguing, and explains why we leave people on the run, one of the most vulnerable groups in the world, alone in this filth, in this cold, without the existential needs, and why politics mercilessly uses them to celebrate deterrence and excessive populism, while a letter from the Federal Ministry of the Interior is in front of me, assuring me that IM Karl Nehammer is "Christian-social", whatever that may mean.

Thank you for your attention,

Doro

Support

Doro Blancke, AT93 3842 0000 0002 7516 Subject: Lesbos

or Helga Longin "Bruck helps" AT30 2021 6216 9756 3700, Lesbos

Comments 2

  1. You are doing important work under obviously extremely difficult conditions and because I trust you personally and appreciate your work, I am also happy to support it financially. Even if, as you know, I don't share your opinion in some areas, I also think that these camps should be closed down immediately, although the circumstances that apparently prevail there should never arise. At the moment, it should be ensured that all refugees are distributed to EU countries in an orderly process that also includes a close examination of the people living in these camps (the decision-makers also have this responsibility towards the population in the destination countries).

    For this to happen, people would have to be brought to permanent, clean accommodation where they would receive medical and psychological care and where a decision would have to be made within two to three months as to which EU country they would be brought to (provided there are no important reasons against it - in the meantime, it is also well known that there are people who deliberately come to Europe to commit acts of terrorism here, like the Tunisian refugee who first came to Europe via Lampedusa and then travelled on to France to murder people there).

    At the moment, I consider this to be the only feasible approach that is compatible with humanistic principles. There must never be camps like this again.

    You and many others of your fellow campaigners are asking here and elsewhere why so many people are silent about all this misery and how bad you think it is. Firstly, I don't believe that so many people are silent. Not everyone has a Twitter account and not everyone is a friend of the so-called social media. I know from my own experience that this topic is hotly debated in many families. In my opinion, the image of the indifferent masses propagated by some NGOs is not at all true. There are reasons for some people's reticence, which can be traced back to real (quite understandable) concerns and fears.

    In my opinion, far too little attention is paid to "cause research" in this regard. This is like constantly treating only the symptoms of a disease and never taking care of the actual cause of the outbreak. As important as it is to dismantle these camps as an "acute measure", it is equally important to decisively address the reasons why people are fleeing. Discussing this requires more space and time than is given here, but it is clear that for all the justified criticism of the West, the unbelievable violence and destructive rage springs from a conglomerate of archaic social structures with religious overtones, combined with corrupt elites that have been kept in power for generations.

    The West is making a shameful contribution to this situation, but the basic evil is that in the refugees' countries of origin, a deeply archaic, misanthropic interpretation of Islam is preached and practised, and this is increasingly spilling over into our countries. This is reflected in the rapidly increasing number of so-called Islamist cells in our own societies. Those who ignore this also harm those refugees who have fled from such groups.

    Europe knows from its own experience what mischief is associated with religious intoxication with power. In countless "religious wars" our continent was devastated several times, our cities were almost deserted after the killing. An end came only with the Enlightenment, with which we took the sting out of religions.

    Freedom of religion is an important good, but religion may only be practised within the framework of a society shaped by the Enlightenment. If we shake these foundations - as some people are demanding and unfortunately are already doing - then the dam will burst and our societies will be plunged into chaos.

    The evil harbinger of this is the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and the unspeakable connection of the Catholic Church in Poland with the rulers there.

    If we now pretend that it is not a social challenge to bring to Europe large numbers of people who have fled war and destruction, but not all of whom are willing to openly and clearly embrace an enlightened society, we will neither be able to help solve the problems on the ground nor maintain the social peace that we all currently enjoy in our countries.

    Unfortunately, there is already evidence of this burgeoning discord in many places; just look at the situation in France, Sweden, but also in Bosnia, where the influence of the Saudis has led to the establishment of huge Salafist centres, from which hate preachers are also sent to Austria.

    This fight, and it is a fight, must therefore be fought on at least two fronts: As an acute measure, existing camps like the ones you are working in must be dissolved immediately and the people must be brought to safety and - after appropriate screening - then to the EU. Later on, Muslim countries such as the rich states of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE etc. will probably also have to assume their responsibility and take in people. Europe is not the only continent that has a duty here.

    In parallel, there must finally be decisive measures to make it clear to Muslim communities within Europe that a clear commitment to a democratic, enlightened system is needed.

    The wars and the destructive rage that rage in the name of Islam in many countries are an internal Islamic problem and the Muslim communities must finally admit this. Even if the weapons often come from the West, it is Muslims who repeatedly murder Muslims and, in their madness, all those who, according to their view, are "infidels".

    When people here in Europe realise that these problems are not being ignored, that their concerns are not being wiped off the table, that they are not being denigrated across the board as Islamophobic or misanthropic because they demand a social consensus based on the achievements of the Enlightenment, then there will also be more understanding and a willingness to help that also shows itself in deeds.

    Dialogue is needed and that includes listening to the fears and concerns of the population in the destination countries. Ultimately, locals and immigrants need to find a way to live peacefully together in mutual respect, and this can only be done by taking into account the fears and anxieties on both sides and demanding action from both sides.

    Immigrant Muslims will not be able to practise their faith as they did in their countries of origin. This is completely incompatible with a Western enlightened society and aid organisations that act as advocates for the refugees must also admit this.

    Only then, and provided that there is finally an inner-Islamic revolt against social barbarism in the name of religion, which is not (only) exhausted in the currently heavily discussed terrorist attacks, but extends to countless everyday crimes against women, people of other faiths, sexual minorities, etc., will these terrible camps no longer exist, because the reasons for flight will no longer exist.

    I know this is not a "popular" view among NGOs and their staff, but I am convinced that it is shared by many people outside these organisations. Those who - justifiably - demand Europeans' willingness to help in this extraordinary situation must also be prepared to face the challenges mentioned and recognise that there is not only the Europeans' debt to fetch, but to the same extent a debt to bring from the people who come to us. Anything else is self-deception that helps no one.

    1. Post
      Author

      Dear Robert!
      Thank you for your detailed contribution and the disclosure of your point of view. Just as I do not find it good to address refugees, homosexuals or other groups in a sweeping manner, I also do not find statements like "the views of NGOs" satisfactory.
      I, of all people, and I may say my constant comrades-in-arms, belong to those representatives who demand and live "give and take".
      I think you remember my work in southern Styria, where I was sometimes reproached for this,
      You also know that I reported a fanatical representative of a misguided interpretation of Islam to Internal Security.
      The results of the integration of the young people with whom we have worked and some of whom are still working are impressive. You also know the "recipes" for this. Constant accompaniment, acceptance into a loving community, but also the demand for acceptance of our ideas of life and values.

      Nevertheless, I think too many issues are mixed up here, even if each has its importance.
      Personally, I demand fair asylum procedures within a timeframe that is bearable for people, about 6 months. I do not accept in any way that people have to stay on the Greek islands for up to 4 years in overcrowded camps, which in their misery are also a breeding ground for radicalisation.
      A camp designed for 3000 people accommodates 22,000 people at peak times, unacceptable!

      Wars in the countries of origin: could be ended easily if the West had the will, but there is probably no interest, on the contrary, they are fuelled.
      80% of the young people I met would be overjoyed if they could return to their home countries.

      Bosnia, a massive problem that I have been drawing attention to since 2016! Who cares?

      That's why I'm here, to help people in an unacceptable predicament, I would be happy if there was no need.

      Heartfelt thanks for the promised support, kindest regards, Doro

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