110 Miles Of Barbed Wire And Shattered Futures – Armina Sinani, Macedonia

Overproduction, underconsumption, speculations – no scholar can assert with certainty that the Great Depression was triggered solely by one factor. More than 80 years ago, this wave of poverty and loss spread across the US and influenced businesses in Europe and worldwide, due to the economic ties that had been established after the Industrial Revolution and WWI.

I was reminded of the Wall Street Crash when I heard about the migration rates from the Middle East and the Balkans, and the Human Capital Flight (or what is casually referred to as ‘brain drain’). The motives may vary, but more often than not, people are escaping war or persecution to seek a better life.

Immigrants on their way to cross the Hungarian border. (source: Eszter Zalan / Euobserver

With a similar ethos, the countries of the United Nations are connected in the desire to ‘establish and maintain peace’. Thus, a crisis in the Middle East is of concern to all permanent members of the Security Council alike. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
‘Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.’

One of Hungary’s declarations in June failed to abide by these rights.

More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island represented the gateway for millions of Italians attempting to climb the social ladder and achieve ‘The American Dream’. Exhausted from the long trip, disoriented, and defeated, many immigrants with a lack of documentation would silently watch their futures shatter in front of their eyes. A similar horrifying sight can be viewed today at the Serbo-Hungarian border, which according to those who cross the borders from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, is the most challenging to pass. Men, women and children who are starving, wounded and at the edge of their capacities, weather the environment here with no protection – and their numbers have increased by 40,000 since last year. Their well-being should be everyone’s responsibility, yet it is nobody’s.

A citizen of Kosovo crossing the Serbo-Hungarian border illegally, at the village of Asotthalom. (Source: Reuters)

No country wants them on their soil, with the ‘justification’ that it is not the politician’s fault if the immigrant’s life is endangered. What are these immigrants looking for? Only escape from persecution, poverty, and war that none of them provoked. They usually occupy Hungary for a short period of time until they recover the capacity to settle further north, often in Germany and Sweden. Now, their path is further hindered by a wall 4 metres high.

Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, began the campaign ‘Hungary as Hungary’, immediately after his declaration. Billboards proudly announce that the wall will be complete by the 31st of August. Orbán has on one occasion stated his true intentions thus: ‘Europe should remain for Europeans’. What can the citizens of Hungary and the world expect from someone who favours the death penalty as a security measure?

Hungarian officers preparing the terrain for the building of the wall on the border (caption: VICE News)

Such walls have been erected (between Mexico and the US) and destroyed (between Eastern and Western Germany) before. The Hungarian barrier has been estimated to cost around $35 million; an amount which would suffice to maintain thousands of immigrants for 4 years. The aforementioned historic references should serve as a lesson about walls: people will always find a way to penetrate bricks and barbed wires, whether legally or illegally. For now, however – to quote the vice president of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia – ‘the wall will just stay’.

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