Why are 12,000 Refugees Sleeping on the Side of the Road in Greece?

Refugees from the destroyed camp of Moria in Lesbos, Greece. Image credit: EPA via The National

The nearly 20 years of Middle East wars have devastated Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. At least 9.7 million people seek refuge in European countries where they hope to find jobs and start new lives.

European governments have made the refugees’ lives miserable in the hope they will go back to their war-ravaged countries voluntarily. Some refugees have been deported without even being allowed to apply for asylum. Those refugees the governments don’t deport are forced to live in squalid, over-crowded, ramshackle camps. Refugees live in tents or in shanties without plumbing, sometimes for years. There is little health care.

A week ago, the camp on Lesbos, a Greek island, caught fire. It held 12,000 people, which is four times the number of occupants the Greek government says could safely live there. The overcrowded shanties and tents were jammed so close together that fighting the fire was impossible. The entire camp burned to the ground, forcing all 12,000 occupants to flee. Thousands of men, women and children are now sleeping in fields alongside of the road leading from the camp. The wars in the Middle East continue, seemingly endlessly, because the United States and Russian governments as well as regional powers like Iran and Saudi Arabia are all trying to control the abundant oil resources of the Middle East. The refugee crisis resulting from these wars is one more demonstration of the misery that capitalism causes in its mad drive for profits at the expense of everything and everyone else.