EU refugee influx – the eye witness

HARARE - Since I once stayed and lived in Germany and Austria – two of the EU countries – I happened to make friends there and this week I interviewed several of them online so that they could share with us their experiences over the influx of refugees in their home countries.

In recent months hundreds of thousands of people have fled the Middle East and Africa, running away from civil war and terror while others are pulled by the promise of a better life. And Europe is experiencing one of the most significant influxes of migrants and refugees in its history.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) said an estimate which does not include the many who crossed a border undetected pegged at least at 350 000 migrants having crossed the EU's borders in January-August 2015, compared with just 280 000 during the whole of 2014.

International media reports that Austria's stance toward refugees is determining this months race for Vienna's city hall, pitting voters who welcome those fleeing into Europe against others who fear that a surge of refugees threaten their own well-being.

Only a fraction of the nearly 200 000 people who crossed into Austria last month stayed in with most traveling on to Germany. The Interior Ministry counted over 46 000 requests for refugee status by the end of August, compared to around 28 000 for all of 2014.

The asylum numbers and the nightly newscasts showing masses of people entering Austria are reported to have increased support for the Freedom Party, which believes that immigration not only threatens traditional Austrian values but also cuts into an already shrinking job market.

In this article I interviewed a source in Germany, Austria and Sweden who all preferred to remain anonymous.

Ivans (not real name from Graz, Austria) said there is a lot to say about the refugee situation - positive and negative - but “the reaction to all those is heart-warming. The right wing is obviously depicting an invasion and a lot of ignorant people are gripped by irrational fear but on the other hand the solidarity with the refugees is amazing.”

Asked whether there would be enough accommodation for the refugees if they continue trooping in numbers more so now that winter is on its way, she said: “This is obviously difficult to say but there are efficient actions - platforms for flat-shares, private accommodation offers and non-governmental organisations (Ngos).”

She added that at most companies employees collect warm clothes, blankets, school items, etc. “Social media are very efficient and it is a good thing because all these right wing people are not afraid of manipulating information, or photographs and they do have support and money.”

She said there would still be some hardliners who might be against this influx.  “Of course, unfortunately ignorance is not going to miraculously vanish.”

Andy (not real name) from Sweden said the majority of refugees are from Syria and Afghanistan but there are also blacks mostly Eritrea. “Here in Sweden the refugees are housed in asylum camps mostly old hotels, jails and other facilities which were not being used. The food is provided for and they are given a daily allowance for other needs.”

Andy said there was a mixed feeling among the nationals there “but majority are positive and welcoming. The only crisis is accommodation and the budget.”

Carol (not her real name) who works and lives in Koln, Germany revealed national there are afraid that members of Isis terror group could be among the refugees; hence they are concerned about their safety.

“They are also not happy about the money to be used in the whole operation. The German citizens are asking why the refugees continue to arrive here – is it because Germans give more money.”

She said most of the refugees were coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkan countries - Kosovo, Albania and Serbia. There seem to be very few black people among the refugees. “Many are children travelling alone with no parents so they need to be taken care of. But it is good that extra funds have already been released to all the areas where the refugees are.”

Another German national Cilia (not real name) who lives and work in Mainz said she was just watching them as we chatted. “I can see them from my window...the refugee situation is crazy. People are coming like mad. And they have to live in the schools or other old buildings without toilets and bathrooms. And winter is coming, that is frightening.

“It is terrible, 2 000 refugees are residing in a big hall. And there will be the 3rd Manifestation of right-wing people within one week. I also just read that youth hostels will host thousands of refugees through winter.”

Cilia said there are fears among German nationals “because of different religions and culture of these people. Our politicians are challenged to manage Integration.

“Something should be done to make the countries where they come from safe. These people want safety and freedom for themselves and their families. If that would be there in their home countries many of them would prefer to go back home.”

Cilia said that as a nation they would eventually cope. “We will manage the situation somehow; social services and private volunteers are very engaged to handle the circumstances.”

Below is an interview with Andrea, a German national studying at a university in Berlin

Q: How are the locals there reacting to the influx of refugees in your country?

A: SASSVery different. Most are a kind of helpful, try to make the best out of it, but I think when this is not stopping, the people will become nervous and the Nazis are getting stronger.

There are a lot of discussions here sometimes very explosive. And they don't find a solution - the politics is a mess.

Q: Is the police still conducting checks?

A: They started the controlling on the border again. The policing situation is getting difficult and they will close the borders I think. I don't know how it will be in some weeks but I think the Europeans will close the borders soon, I guess.

In the last days the German government decided to go back to the controlling on the borders and they are going to change the law of asylum. People from East-Europe like Serbia, Albanians etc. are not getting asylum anymore.

Q: Have you been to any of the refugee camps?

A: SAaaaJah, yesterday I went to one of the refugee camp in the neighbourhood, it has been here since two years, quiet established. I tried to give some children's stuff, but they are picky - they didn't want the things - funny. But I heard about other places, people have nothing! It is so sad.

Q: And these people which countries are they coming from?

A: Many countries. Most of them say they are from Syria. But my parents told me that they have new friends from Tibet, Pakistani and Afghani, Eritrea, Iraqis and quiet a lot from Albania and East-Europe.

Q: From your personal view as a German national - do you like what u see?

A: You know, I have a lot of friends who are here for asylum. I taught German (Deutsch language) to foreigners for quite some time. And my own family had been refugees after World War II. So I feel the trauma of people running away from war and I think I have a responsibility.

But in the moment it is more like a hysterical wave to the refugees as the people never imagined deserting their homes. But they suddenly start running and I am not sure why to Germany - I don't think that there is a paradise here. Life is tough in another way. And seeing people shouting; ‘we want to go to German’ is strange for me. What do they expect? But as a person, I try to help, when I see people suffering.

Actually there is one thing which I find strange; you nearly never see refugees on the street. It's not that you can ‘see’ them in the streets easily. And I just remembered that there is a pick-nick for refugees (refugees welcome) on the Tempelhofer Flughafen.

Comments (2)

A few fundamental facts to the refugee/immigrant story not talked about in this story. 1. Not a mistake , neither is it out of feeling for the refugees that Mrs Merkel shouted "Come all, we will manage." Her grand plan is to bring the two Germans (East and West) together before she retires. How ? By bringing in a common enermy - the refugee upon whom the two Germans will vent their anger and every time scape goat for the ills affecting the country. 2.If you are black refugees never ever dream they will bother about your plight worse still invite you (as they do with Arabs) that you are running away from fire in your country. Look at Calais in France. There the refugees are blacks and the authorities in France (with EU conniving) designated a forest for the ANIMALS from Africa. 3.Newspapers in the EU (Germany in particular) when they want to show pictures of refugees they make sure they focus on a black refugee even if he is one among five thousand Arabs. If they find no black skin they superimpose a picture of a blackman on their pictures. They are so obssesed by black people who happen to show up in Europe. To anybody who think I am exagerating I am ready to furnish you with evidences to my claims for you to see. Never be cheated by those who say welcome, welcome. In fact in Germany you will find discremination subtly deep-rooted in their institutions. Foreigners are simply not welcome, especially Africans - not to talk of refugees.

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