The agreement between the EU and Turkey regarding refugees has gone into effect and the first boatload of 202 deportees has made its way from Greece to Turkey. Europe has sent a signal, loud and clear, that it is using stricter criteria for granting asylum to refugees. This has succeeded in arresting the flow of migrants towards Greece. But Greece still has to care for the thousands already there and it is ill equipped to do so. Here is a simple humanitarian way to help them, with a wall. Sounds paradoxical? This is not a wall that divides but a wall of kindness.
Pictures of women and children huddled together in crowded boats or in pup tents in a stinking muddy field in Indomeni, Greece or pressing againt razor topped fences are routinely seen on television and social media. So what have we achieved since the picture of Alan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean trying to cross from Turkey to Greece galvanized the world and prodded the heads of state in Europe to wake up and belatedly act?
Pictures of desperate migrants fleeing the war ravaged regions of the Middle East and the economically ravaged regions of Africa and Asia have been with us for decades. But only recently has the pace, scale and the attendant TV and digital media coverage overwhelmed us and the authorities. Countries in the Eurozone are scrambling to cope with the crisis, but the response is not uniform. Some countries like Germany with their Willkommenskultur, have taken in the lion’s share of the refugees from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan. But, as is also becoming clear, there are limitations to how many refugees Germany and eventually the EU can accommodate. However, granting asylum is a temporary fix, a Band-Aid. Let us look at the problem from a different perspective.
As a scientist, let me use an analogy from physics. Imagine two chambers A and B filled with air and connected by a tube with a valve. Chamber A has air at a higher pressure than B. The natural tendency of air is to flow from regions of high pressure A to regions of low pressure B. How do we prevent air flowing from A to B?