Saturday, November 25, 2017

Shame on You, Civilization


This week two articles reported by Reuters on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean caught my eye, concomitantly raising my blood pressure. Admittedly, they’re directly related to the subject of my ninth Andreas Kaldis mystery-thriller, AN AEGEAN APRIL, coming January 2nd from Poisoned Pen Press. But this is not about promoting my book.

This post is directed at western governments that, while righteously condemning atrocities in what they deign less civilized regions of the world, are at the same time brazenly complicit in condoning equivalent behaviors designed at keeping refuges from reaching their national borders.

Here’s what Reuters had to say this week about the migrant situation on the Greek island of Lesvos (population 86,000)—the setting for An Aegean April—a situation that is the direct result of an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey to shut down the route taken by refugees into Greece, via Turkey, on their way to Northern Europe.  

 “Greek Island on Strike In Protest Against Becoming a Migrant ‘Prison.’”

ATHENS (Reuters—Karolina Tagaris) - Residents on the Greek island of Lesbos went on strike on Monday to protest against European policies they say have turned it into a “prison” for migrants and refugees….

Just a few miles from Turkey’s coast, Lesbos has borne the brunt of Europe’s migrant crisis. In 2015, nearly a million people - most fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - landed on its shores before heading north, mainly to Germany.
It is now hosting some 8,500 asylum-seekers in facilities designed to hold fewer than 3,000.
“Lesbos is not an open prison, nor will we allow anyone to view it as such,” Mayor Spyros Galinos was quoted as saying by the Athens News Agency.
Thousands of asylum-seekers have become stranded on Lesbos and four other islands close to Turkey since the EU agreed a deal with Ankara in March 2016 to shut down the route through Greece.
Some have been moved to camps on the mainland, but authorities say the terms of the agreement prevent asylum-seekers from travelling beyond the islands.
Rights groups have described conditions in camps across Greece as deplorable and unfit for humans. On Lesbos, violence often breaks out over delays in asylum procedures and poor living standards.
“The message (today) was that we can’t take it any more,” Galinos said. “Lesbos is in a state of emergency.”
And here’s the second article, this one addresses the deal with Turkey, but also the shame implicit in an EU deal that enlists Libya to keep refugees from making it to Italy, and from there on into Northern Europe.  Don’t miss the last two sentences…assuming you have the stomach for what civilized governments are willing to sweep under the rug in the name of protecting their national interests.

Mediterranean ‘by far world’s deadliest border’ for migrants, IOM says.
More than 33,000 migrants have died at sea trying to reach European shores this century, making the Mediterranean "by far the world’s deadliest border", the United Nations migration agency said on Friday.

After record arrivals from 2014 to 2016, the European Union’s deal with Turkey to stop arrivals from Greece, and robust patrols off Libya’s coast have greatly reduced the flow, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Professor Philippe Fargues of the European University Institute in Florence, author of the report, said the figures probably underestimated the actual scale of the human tragedy.

"The report states that at least 33,761 migrants were reported to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean between the year 2000 to 2017. This number is as of June 30," IOM’s Jorge Galindo told a Geneva news briefing.

"It concludes that Europe’s Mediterranean border is by far the world’s deadliest," he said.
So far this year some 161,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by sea, about 75 percent of them landing in Italy with the rest in Greece, Cyprus and Spain, according to IOM figures. Nearly 3,000 others are dead or missing, it said.

"Shutting the shorter and less dangerous routes can open longer and more dangerous routes, thus increasing the likelihood of dying at sea," Fargues said.

The report said: "Cooperation with Turkey to stem irregular flows is now being replicated with Libya, the main country of departure of migrants smuggled along the central route; however, such an approach is not only morally reprehensible but likely to be unsuccessful, given the context of extremely poor governance, instability and political fragmentation in Libya."

Libya’s UN-backed government said on Thursday it was investigating reports of African migrants being sold as slaves and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Footage broadcast by CNN appearing to show African migrants being traded in Libya sparked an international outcry and protests in Europe and Africa. [Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters]

Shame on all for going along.


Jeff’s Upcoming Events

My ninth Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis novel, AN AEGEAN APRIL, publishes on January 2, 2018 and here is the first stage of my book tour:

Thursday, January 4 @ 7PM
Poisoned Pen Bookstore,
Scottsdale, AZ (joint appearance with Thomas Perry)

Saturday, January 6 @ 2 PM            
Clues Unlimited
Tucson, AZ

Monday, January 8  @ 7PM
Vromans (on Colorado)
Pasadena, CA

Wednesday, January 10 @ 7PM                   
Tattered Cover (on Colfax)
Denver, CO

Saturday, January 13 @ 2 PM                      
Book Carnival 
Orange, CA

Sunday, January 14 @ 2 PM
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA

Wednesday, January 17 @ 7 PM      
Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park)
Seattle, WA

Sunday, January 21 @ 7 PM
Book Passage
Corte Madera, CA


  1. Agree. It's all shameful and inhumane -- and perpetrated by wealthy EU countries. Where is the humanity that the Greek people have shown in the more prosperous European countries?
    With all of the economic problems that have occurred in Greece in recent years, the people are still lightyears ahead of much of Europe in being decent, kind human beings.

    The terrible fate of many African people who are fleeing all-out poverty and wars should enrage everyone with a conscience and governments should solve the problems, extend assistance, declare an emergency.
    I mean slavery in 2017? Horrific.

    1. It is estimated that 36 million are in slavery around the world TODAY.

    2. Kathy and Jeff, About three years ago, when I began researching Idol of Mombasa (which has a theme of slavery), the estimate for current people living in slavery was 25 million. If what Jeff read is true, that number has gone up almost 50% in only a few years. It breaks my heart and crushes my soul, but I believe it. I have said this before here. We have to find them and free them. We must!

  2. My brother, you know how aware I am of the humane response of the Italians to the 75% that have gone to Italy. And even their humane collection and saving the DNA of the dead. Our beloved NYC has always known what to do with refugees: take them in, give them jobs, educate their children. This is the path that has made ours the most successful, vibrant, creative place on earth. The selfish, smug peoples on this planet don’t have the vaguest idea the opportunities they are denying themselves.

  3. There are no words for civilization right now. . .
    (and I see we are going to miss you in Seattle in January by three days - dang!)

  4. Just my both points you make. :( Kalo Taxidhi!

  5. I just saw a photo on my Facebook page posted by someone I know of three African man tied upside down by their feet and holding themselves up on the ground by their hands in Libya.

    Where the hell is the rest of the world? Why isn't the U.N. doing something? What is the point of U.N. Human Rights Commission or an E.U. if this is allowed to happen?

    Where is the humanity?