Even though it seems like an eternity ago that there was news unrelated to Corona, some of us still remember those times. Burning forests in Australia, Brexit and the fight between Turkey and the European Union about people, who are fleeing from war and death. Since Corona has been so all-consuming, it is sometimes hard to imagine that there is still a whole world out there. There is still misery and suffering that has nothing to do with Corona. There are still humanitarian crisis and they were bad before Corona and now they are even worse. Some have not forgotten and have started a petition that already has almost 300.000 supporters: #LeaveNoOneBehind. An initiative founded in Germany which asks the European Union to prevent another humanitarian crisis and save thousands of lives.
Moria is a symbol of how the European Union fails to do its job
Camp Moria is a refugee camp located on the Greek Island Lesbos with the capacity to accommodate 3.000 people. Camp Moria opened in November 2015. Since 2016 it was mostly used to deport people to Turkey. But the number of inhabitants has not stopped growing ever since. In August 2019 reportedly 3.000 refugees lived in the camp, in October the same year that number grew to 13.000 and in January 2020 19.000 people were living in Camp Moria, now it’s more than an estimated 20.000. This is especially dangerous because the camp is not at all equipped to accommodate that many people. According to statista as of March 2020 more than 20.000 people are living in the camp 8.000 of those are children, 1.000 are minors without a guardian. As of right now, there are only 8 nurses, 3 doctors and 2 midwives responsible for all of them. Therefore, #LeaveNoOneBehind demands to evacuate the camps immediately.
To put this a bit into perspective: The AKH is not only the ugliest building in Vienna, it is also the biggest hospital in Austria. It has 1.763 beds and 1.582 doctors. Of course the number of beds does not reflect on the number of patients treated there daily, because they also have a lot of outpatient clinics, but they also have an additional 8.661 employees from nurses, to radio technologists and janitors to make it one of the best hospitals in Europe. And yet, I, personally, have never heard of anyone who left the AKH and was happy with their service (even though they are doing an excellent job, but Austrians like to complain). So, imagine what it must be like to share your doctor with another 6.666 people. On top of that, people in the camps don’t have the same access to clean drinking water, showers or toilets as we do.
This has been a humanitarian crisis long before Corona.
In 2016 the European Union struck a deal with Turkey to take back Syrian refugees who made their way to Greece. In return for every person that came to Greece illegaly and was let into Turkey, the EU would resettle another Syrian refugee within the Union. The deal also included payment from the European Union to Turkey to cover the costs of housing and education. Since 2016 Turkey has received approximately 6 Billion Euros from the EU. Another part of the deal was that the European Union would speed up the negotiations about Turkey becoming part of the Union, as well as visa-free travels for Turkish citizens to the European Union. In February 2020 Turkey broke that agreement and opened the borders, resulting in more people trying to flee to Greece and now being stuck in the refugee camps. The situation worsened ever since. But imagine what it feels like now.
It has only been roughly 3 weeks since the Austrian Chancellor has announced that universities and schools will be closed, and people waited in line for an hour to buy toilet paper. Hand sanitizer and soap were sold out weeks before that. It shows that people know the danger of the virus and they are scared. They are scared even though they have best possible circumstances to survive this. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world with one of the best public healthcare systems.
So how come people show so little compassion for those who have it so much worse?
People wonder when they will be able to go on holidays while thousands have been sitting in refugee camps for years not knowing if they will ever be able to cross any border again in their lifetime. They are already getting impatient and asking when they will be able to go outside and live their normal life while the inhabitants of Camp Moria spend years in this limbo state. People demand answers and press conferences but tolerate that thousands of children don’t know if they will ever see their families again. So how can one make them care? How can those who already care be politically active during times of Corona? How can one fight the feeling of not being able to do anything to help?
Over the course of the next weeks, we will explore the subjects of social responsibility, political activism in times of Corona and its success together with the #LeaveNoOneBehind movement.
The first thing you can do right now is go on and sign their petition to evacuate Camp Moria and help them save thousands of lives.