Editor’s note: Thanks to reader ‘Pungentpeppers’ for pulling together some important information for us in this guest post.
Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Cyprus say that they are “at a breaking point”. You might remember hearing about them. In September, 337 of them were headed – illegally – to Italy when their boat broke down. The passengers described their ordeal, “We spent days at sea with no food and no water. There were so many people on the boat. We called it the journey of death.”
You would think that they would be grateful for being rescued. They weren’t. A passing cruise liner rescued them and took them to the nearest port, in Cyprus. That’s when the group from Syria threw their first hissy fit. They refused to get off the ship and demanded that the crew take them to Italy. It did not matter that there were hundreds of paying passengers on the ship who had to get to their destinations. They would not relent – until an elite group of Cypriot riot police arrived in force.
Since then the group have been enlightening the public about their financial dealings. Some paid as much as $8,000 (6,400 euros) each for their first illegal boat rides. Others, including children, paid $6,000 (4,900 euros). You would think that perhaps they might have figured out that paying a lot of money to a lawbreaking smuggler is not a good idea. But about two weeks ago, several from the group gave one of their own around $5,000 (4,000 euros) each after he promised he could get them off Cyprus and into mainland Europe. They had collected the sums from their apparently well-off relatives in Syria and Europe. The would-be smuggler, however, disappeared along with the money. [I wonder which European country he went to?]
The group – who are staying in tents at a former military camp – are not happy campers. One member of the group hung himself recently. Only about 20 agreed to remain in Cyprus. The rest are still holding out for Europe.
The other day, the group organized a demonstration with signs written in English. One sign, “We want to live in safe country”. Another sign goes further “We want the freedom of choose the country in which we want to live”. (Ah, they must be Soros’ “globalists”!) One protester complained that they cannot afford the fees to apply for residency in Cyprus. That’s 70 euros or $85 – small change compared to $8,000 and perhaps an additional $5,000 apiece that these people paid before. Why don’t they call their relatives again?
Members of the group complained that they expected to stay in hotels in Cyprus – not tents. One woman, when she saw the tents, fell on the ground crying and shouting saying “we ran from death and now we were will endure a slow death, here at the camp”. If they don’t like the tents, since they have thousands of dollars and apparently rich relatives, why don’t they pay for hotel rooms? It’s the slow season in Cyprus and prices are low.
Yet, they still hold out for Dreamland Europe. I hate to break it to them – but there is no housing there either. Germany with its freezing climate is putting refugees in shipping containers. The Swiss house asylum seekers underground, many to a room, in military bunkers. In Sweden – unless you are willing to go to the far north – you will likely wind up sharing a kitchen and sleeping in a tiny apartment along with several other families. In France, in places like Calais, you can find refugees living exposed to the elements, cooking and sleeping in tent camps. [Take a look at this advertisement for one such accommodation. It’s in French but has photos. The amenities include neither water, nor electricity, but it offers a good view of the Calais “jungle”. Your bed is a scrap of carpet, your dining table is a shipping pallet.]
Somali woman lived on a bench!
And in Britain, times have changed. Perhaps formerly a refugee could hope to get a council house. Nowadays, due to massive immigration, housing has become a sorry situation. Many people rent beds in garden sheds – or sleep in caravans. Many others are homeless. This year, one older Somali woman was reduced to living on a bench for nine months, while she was holding out for a council house. [She used an umbrella for when it rained.] Finally, one day when she was hospitalized, the local government removed even that small misused bit of accommodation. See that story here at the Guardian.
We have an expression in the U.S., “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. The Syrians should consider making lemonade.
Go here for a few other posts we have written about the problems with illegal aliens arriving on Cyprus.