Migrants and hostages

The image is freezing, with its rolls of barbed wire deployed endlessly against a backdrop of dark forests, invaded by fog. The sky is low. It is cold and gray: the migrants, on the Belarusian side of the metal wall, are dressed in anoraks and hats; a child in a red jumpsuit stands out in this dark universe: he moves, even runs, while everyone around him seems frozen. On the other side, in Poland, soldiers wearing white helmets are also motionless; behind them, trucks and a military tent speak a warlike language. The tension is palpable. It is understandable: if the migrants manage to cross the obstacle, the Polish border guards will force them back. On November 11, their authorities announced “Having repelled 468 attempts to cross the border illegally”.

Migrants, despite themselves, have for years been invited into European political debates and into the internal agenda of each of the Member States. Victims of the living conditions in their country of origin, of the violence and the tragedies that play out there, they leave their homes with the hope of a better future. We find them on the shores of the Mediterranean, on the edges of the Channel, today on the border between Belarus and Poland or Lithuania …

Here they are hostages of a dangerous game between the Belarus of President-dictator Alexander Lukashenko, accused of trafficking in human beings, and the European Union; Moscow, whose exact degree of responsibility for the operation is not known, is lying in wait to support its Belarusian ally or to obtain some compensation from Europe, if Russia helps to resolve the crisis, for example. example by ensuring that the gas supply would not be cut. They are hostages of circumstance for Poland: by presenting itself as the last bulwark of Europe (while refusing its help), it intends to make people forget the serious subjects of disagreement between its government and Brussels. Hostages, again, on another border, post-Brexit relations between France and Great Britain: a thousand of them would have crossed the Channel on Thursday 11 November, around fifty were rescued and brought back to France, three were carried missing. Hostages, finally, of the difficulties of Europe to use a common language and to lead a concerted policy …

Migrants also find themselves instrumentalized in national political speeches, when the French electoral campaign for the 2022 presidential election begins: they become a simple propaganda tool by being systematically associated with the theme of security.

Don’t these men, these women, these children deserve better than to be victims, not only of the leaders of their countries, of the mafias of smugglers, but also of the indifference or the cynicism of our nations? Where, in these events, are the four actions recalled at length by Pope Francis to remind Europe of its duty of hospitality: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate?


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