Policymakers in Official Washington talk piously about waging “humanitarian” wars, but the real-life consequences of these interventions play out in squalid refugee camps far from U.S. shores, as Ann Wright witnessed.
By Ann Wright
“If you don’t like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them.” Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border.
As we well know, neither the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away. However, in a U.S. presidential election year, it is a message that American voters should heed.
The Obama administration, which inherited the chaos from the 2003 Iraq war from the Bush administration but which has been bombing ISIS in urban areas in Iraq and Syria, has resettled only 1,736 Syrian refugees over the last seven months — despite President Obama’s pledge to resettle at least 10,000 Syrians by September 2016.
In contrast, Canada has resettled more than 26,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015, while Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have together taken in millions of Syrian refugees since the conflict began five years ago.
In early May, we had flown from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and then had driven one hour north to the Greek border with Macedonia. The name of the tiny hamlet of Idomeni has become synonymous with the largest refugee camp in Greece.
As we arrived, a tremendous thunder, lightning and hailstorm hit the area ripping down tents, making mud pools and deluging tents and the clothing and bedding inside. We saw the worst conditions (except cold and snow) that the 13,000 refugees must endure in five camps within four miles of the Macedonian border.
All five are “informal, unofficial” camps and refugees can come and go at will. They have refused any attempt to put them into the formal “detention” camps that place them in isolated areas and restrict their…