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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Nameless

I have been pondering all sorts of subjects but most of the things which caught my eye this week have been done to death by the media.  However, there was a piece on the BBC Radio 4 news last week which caught my ear instead.
It was an interview with a grave digger on Lesbos.  He was not a grave digger by profession but had taken it upon himself to bury victims of the migrant crisis.  He had personally buried about seventy people.  Fairly certain that most of them were Syrian, he had taken the decision to start burying them facing Mecca and to follow Islamic burial rituals.
But there were no names to put on the grave stones.  Only numbers which corresponded to a DNA register.  In the hope, according to the reporter, that one day relatives would come looking for their loved ones.
How very modern this all sounds.  Yet surely this number system is simply the modern equivalent of the pauper's grave in Victorian times or a mass lime pit burial of medieval plague victims.  Maybe one or two of these people will one day be identified but one has to presume that any living relatives are themselves under extreme threat in Syria or elsewhere or are in refugee conditions in some European country.  They may be stranded in Turkey.
The system certainly didn't sound like it made the grave digger feel any better.  He knew he was burying the unknown and probably never found.
At the end of last week, the pope took twelve refugees to the Vatican with him after visiting Lesbos.  Once again, a light briefly shone on this appalling situation.  And then we relapsed into news about some celebrity's private life, the Brexit debate (don't even get me started) and the royal trip to India.
I just completely fail to understand how a world which still marks Holocaust Day, still is chasing down Nazi concentration camp guards and still has such an appetite for stories about the Second World War can fail to see what is happening right now.  Can repeat the same errors of burying our collective heads and leaving arrangements to save people to the dedicated few.  While some bureaucrat decides that the best possible solution for these desperate people is to send them back to Turkey, if not to where they came from.  Anyone remember the Kinder Transports? 
And anyone remember the bureaucratic mess caused by Indian Partition in 1947?  Or the division of Palestine? Millions displaced and/or killed thanks to the strokes of a civil servants pen on maps.  Human-made disasters.
The Nazis were evil personified.  I am not for a minute saying our governments are conspiring to systematically kill the thousands of refugees who want to make it to Europe.  But they are looking at votes and finances.  They are certainly not looking at the situation with humanitarian eyes.  This is about people not numbers.

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