The reduction of the refugee solidarity movement to just another trend
Year 2011, while the effect of the Egyptian arab spring seemed to get rapidly contagious over another Northern African countries, ousting dictatorial regimes after decades of unbroken rule; a resistance movement against El-Assad government rose up in Syria. But in contrast to what happened in some neighbour countries and certainly because of its strategically geographical location, its reserves of crude oil and gas – which makes it the largest reserve in the eastern Mediterranean – and being an alawite regime, changed completely the course of a revolt , that months later turned into a war with too many international players.
As a result of the conflict hundred of thousands of Syrians got displaced, left their country and took direction to Europe. Just at the beginning of the spring of 2015, the alarming number of lifes killed during the flee started to get presence at the media. No special emergency rescue programm was approved, neither discussed at the European Parlament to be carried out by Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard). Images of drowned bodies at the Mediterranean coasts became something routinary. Italy and Greece were the preferred arrival countries, but not final destinations due to the poor economic conditions. Germany became then the main receptor of Syrian refugees, playing its role as moral leader during the crisis.
But how much morality has been in the end?
The migration flow happened to turn into the so known ”refugee crisis“. Needless to say that it was not the first time for Germany in its recent History; in the 80s during the Lebanon-Israeli war, and in the 90s during the war in Yugoslavia. The discussions at the European Parlament got replicated at social media platforms, starting a debate and dividing society in detractors and supporters.
The detractors, transforming the issue into a nationalistic discourse, turning the victims into criminals, who represent a thread to our culture and living standards, resulting in a more fragmented Europe.
The supporters, speaking out for the rights of the refugees, organising demonstrations and colourful events covered by the press. At the time everyone seemed to want to get involved in initiatives for refugees, the issue just become a social media trending topic. There must be the ones who believe that there is a correlative connection between human kindness and the quantity of likes and posts including the hashtag #refugee welcome or #solidarity with refugees.
Merkel’s Government faced a vast opposition at the European Parlament because of the handling of the refugee crisis while her popularity and the share on vote intention for the next election drastically sank. Alarming measurements came in force therefore. The closure of the balkan route and an European- Turkish agreement that costs Europe $ 6,7 Billion and political concessions to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Sure, the deal has begun to produce results, observing a sharp reduction of the migration flows .
But at which cost?
The deal unveiled a paradox for the European Union that has spent decades preaching its solidarity with migrants flowing from neighbouring countries and its battle to hold human rights that should prevail over any kind of economical interest…But confining Syrians in refugee camps in Turkey not allowing them to continue their route to Europe does not seem to have anything to do with Freedom and therefore no with Human Rights.
One year is gone since we started to get familiar with people fleeing from Syria.
One year documented, traced and registered in social media. If we would consider just the parameters used by social media managers to evaluate social behaviour and its response to the refugee emergency since last year, we could conclude that it just became another trending topic, and as such, it got inspired, discovered, mainstreamed and unfortunately it faded away at the end…
The Syrian war and related refugee crisis topics were the third most discussed topic on Facebook at the end of 2015. In September 2016, Pokemon Go, I Phone 7 and 9/11 conspiracy theories are leading social media…no place for Solidarity with refugees…no discussion any longer at the European Parlament…no dramatic images of refugees locked behind the European fences…no presence at the news…no relevant for social media platforms…Thousand of mouths have been silenced…a new wall has been erected… and the HELP is still needed…But refugees are not longer trending topic…however SOLIDARITY does not know anything about trends.