Christ Recrucified (Ο Χριστός Ξανασταυρώνεται) is a 1954 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis which narrates the plight of refugees arriving in a Greek village after being expelled from their native territories. It is a story of refugee horror and human anguish that everyone would do well to re-read against the background of the contemporary refugee crisis.
Watching the events of the last few days in the Greece-Macedonia (FYROM for the nationalists amongst you) border makes one wonder where our humanity has gone. There are thousands of desparate people, families, pregnant women, children left to starve in a barren piece of land on the border. They have no provisions, no shelter no help. The Macedonian police is blocking passage. These people of course are majority Syrian refugees who do not want to be in Greece, or Macedonia, or Serbia or anywhere else in the balkans. They are headed for Western Europe.
We are treating them (as Europeans, and as Greeks) in an unacceptable fashion. Where is our humanity? Consider this analogy.
If a town such as Ioannina in Western Greece was hit by a major earthquake that left about 120.000 people homeless, what would the state (and Europe) do?
Faced with a humanitarian crisis, a health emergency, disaster relief and recovery, would we let the people of Ioannina to fend for themselves? Would we barricade the roads to prevent them from going to the neighbouring towns? Would we try and arrest them when they got there? They would be desparate and in bad condition. They would spread disease, they might steal, or there may be criminal elements amongst them.
Would we ignore them?
No, we would not ignore them. The whole country would mobilise to help them. The army would be sent in to clear up the place and erect temporary accomodation. Money would be raised, provisions would be sent. Would we do this because they are Greeks? Because they are Christian? We would do this because it is a necessary human duty of solidarity.
Europe needs to take action and respond to this humanitarian catastrophe by first alleviating the plight of the refugees. They need to mobilise the earthquake response and built towns to house the 120.000 refugees who have landed in Greece this year (most still there). Europe needs to pay to feed and house these people and do it immediately, without arguing. Greece needs to accept to house these people immediately and without arguing.
Will this create towns of foreigners on Greek soil? Yes.
Did the 1 million refugees arriving in 1922 create towns of foreigners on Greek soil? Yes they did! The Syrians of today are as close to the Greeks as the Greeks from Asia Minor (now Turkey) were to the Greeks in 1922. They are not Christian, they are not ethnically Greek. It does not matter.
Read Kazantzakis. Rethink what it means to be human in the 21st Century. I am willing to pay more taxes to Mr Cameron to give money to Europe to deal with this crisis. I do not mind refugees being settled in Ioannina next to my summer house, as I would not mind homeless earthquake victims being settled there. It is part of being human. If you refuse the refugees now, think that next time it may be you knocking on some foreign door for assistance.
When Greeks were expelled by Ataturk, they sought refuge in Aleppo in Syria. Think!