“Refugees are welcome”

The image alone tells of many of the misfortunes that afflict our world, while, focused on the pandemic that is undermining us, we can forget that other scourges befall elsewhere. This photo, in what it says, is not limited to a place, a time; it has universal value.

The war. Conflicts are constantly reborn from their ashes. The Tigray is the illustration. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner!) Launched his troops against rebels in his country’s northern province, led by the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, accused of corruption and violation of human rights, who was in power for thirty years before being ousted by the current head of government. An attack on a government military base set fire to the powder. The fighting is fierce; according to Amnesty International war crimes are being committed. But it is difficult to have information on what is really going on. What we do know, however, is that the populations are forced to flee the fighting and seek refuge in neighboring Sudan.

The exodus. On a cart, the bags, the cans and the bundles are piled up in the greatest disorder: driven out by the fighting in the north of Ethiopia, the inhabitants of Tigray seek refuge in Sudan, carrying some “essential” goods (here , the word takes on its full meaning). The beauty of the faces and the colors in no way detract from the tragic situation, experienced on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, but also in other parts of the world; lived in this month of November 2020, but also in other times of our history …

Civilian casualties. In the photo, we see especially women and children, as always the first victims of wars and violence. The article tells us that some are sick, sometimes undernourished. Children thus displaced will no longer be in school, adding to the number of children deprived of school due to poverty, war or pandemic. Their future is darkening.

Reception of refugees. It is too often forgotten: the displacement of populations, migration does not primarily concern our Europe, but takes place within countries themselves, or to neighboring countries, often just as poor and lacking capable infrastructure. to cope. And yet the welcome is immediate; the inhabitants of the Sudanese border gave their support, even before international aid was organized. “Refugees are welcome”, explains Mariam to the journalist who questions her. But soon, if the fighting does not cease, if the international community does not mobilize, this lasting presence of refugees could become a burden, causing anger and rejection. The inhabitants of Lesbos in Greece or southern Italy have shown a lot of generosity, but, left too alone, they sometimes know this development.

We would like to be able to break this fatal chain, too often seen, too repeated, too deadly, and to believe in the construction of a just peace – which is not only the absence of war – and lasting.


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