It’s mid-summer and the weather is pleasant, a perfect time for third worlders to flood into Europe more easily. There has been a lot of reporting about the rickety boats headed north from Africa, but it’s also possible for the intruders, some number of whom are unfriendly Muslims, to walk to the first world, just like Mexicans do to get here.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported on the walkers, and interestingly didn’t call them “refugees” at every opportunity. Perhaps the brilliant reporters there figured out that when all of the relocators are young males (as in the photo below), then they are likely economic migrants looking for “a better life” i.e. more money, rather than families forced from their homes by war or natural disaster.
Below, Syrian men traverse Serbia on the way to Hungary and points beyond in Europe.
Unsurprisingly, pockets of resistance are forming up among Europeans. Hungary is building a fence to block the intruders, which supposedly will be finished by November. Naturally the invaders are miffed, with some declaring ”This wall, we will not accept it”, showing their aim to conquer rather than immigrate.
A few weeks ago, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned that the massive influx was a national security threat. “It is obvious that we simply cannot filter out hostile terrorists from this enormous crowd,” he remarked in a speech.
Furthermore, the PM noted:
“For us, today Europe is at stake,” Orban said. “The survival, disappearance or, more precisely, the transformation beyond recognition of the European citizen’s lifestyle, European values and the European nations.”
“The question now is not only what kind of Europe we Hungarians would like to live in,” Orban said. “Rather, will all that we now call Europe exist at all?”
Below is a cheerful video item from Deutsche Welle that follows the journey of one invader, a Syrian named Ahmad Shelabi, as he travels to Germany to start his “new life.” No mention that any job he finds will be one not available for a German citizen — unpleasant facts can ruin a diverse puff piece!
A lot more resistance from the people of Europe will be required for Brussels to come around to defending their culture from demographic defeat via illegal immigration, the 21st century’s more polite form of war.
Seeking Sanctuary, More Migrants Confront Land Route’s Perils, New York Times, July 25, 2015
SUBOTICA, Serbia. — They call it “the jungle,” but it’s really just a tangle of dirt paths through stunted trees near an abandoned brick factory.
Between 150 and 200 people — mostly men, with a smattering of young families — cluster in discrete groups in scattered campsites, most resting on dusty blankets, the earth blackened here and there by the remains of the previous night’s fires.
“We have people from Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Morocco,” said Mohamd, 42, a former truck driver for a factory near Aleppo, Syria, who hopes to reach the Netherlands. “Am I forgetting anyone?”
His cousin, Walid, 45, scratched his well-worn sandal into the hard clay. “Algeria?”
Mohamd waved him off. “That group went into Hungary two nights ago,” he said. “We have not seen them back yet.”
With war continuing to plague the Middle East and Afghanistan, and thousands trying to flee Africa’s grinding poverty, the swell of refugees and migrants hoping to reach Western Europe shows no signs of abating this summer.
For the last few years, the most popular route has been across the Mediterranean on boats run by Libyan smugglers that aimed for the nearest islands off the Italian coast. But as that route has become increasingly dangerous — the range of threats include drowning, abandonment by unscrupulous smugglers and crackdowns by European border patrols — the human tide is shifting. Increasingly, migrants are following a land-based route into Europe by way of Greece and the West Balkans.
But with the alternative crossing come other perils: violence, exploitation, intolerance. Though most European countries are overwhelmed by the tide, fueling an anti-immigrant backlash in many places, Eastern European countries like Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria are considered particularly hostile.
Still, the migrants keep coming.
Mohamd, like more than two dozen migrants interviewed at the brick factory and other sites along the border here with Hungary, declined to give his last name for fear of reprisals against relatives left behind and unwelcoming authorities on the road ahead. His was a typical story.
He left Syria on May 16, made his way through Turkey and slipped across the border into Greece.
Along the way, there may be short bus rides or miles covered by train. But for many of the migrants — including almost all of those interviewed at the brick factory — the journey was largely undertaken on foot. They follow rail lines or paths passed along by smugglers or passed down the communications chain from refugees farther ahead.
For a bird, the trip from Damascus, Syria, to Szeged, just across the Hungarian border, is 1,200 miles. From Kabul, Afghanistan, it is 2,700 miles. The migrant’s route, though, is rarely the most direct.
The journey from Aleppo to Szeged is 1,100 miles on a direct route, but more than 1,500 miles by roads, and more than that to skirt risky checkpoints and follow meandering forest paths and railbeds.
“I took a few short trains and a bus,” Mohamd said. “But mostly, we walked.”
It took 10 days to get through Greece. Macedonia was crossed quickly, but he has been stuck in Serbia for a month. Twice he had sneaked into Hungary and was quickly arrested, spending 16 days in jail the first time and five the next. He also earned an official document that bans him from entering the country for three years.
“I will try again either tonight or tomorrow,” he said, shrugging. “What else can I do? There is no life anymore in Syria, only bombing.”
In a report this month by Amnesty International, the organization acknowledged the dangers of the land route. “Refugees face considerable obstacles in accessing asylum in any country along their journey,” the report said.
“Refugees and migrants alike are at constant risk of exploitation, arbitrary detention and ill treatment.”
Echoed in interviews, reports of abuse by smugglers and border guards are plentiful. So are the constant dangers of bandit gangs and the police demanding bribes.
“Police in Hungary, no good,” said Sachid, 36, a Kurdish refugee from northern Iraq hoping to meet up with a cousin in Germany.
He crossed his wrists behind his back to indicate how he had been handcuffed, then pantomimed being punched.
“In Serbia, the police say, ‘Give us 50 euros and you can go,’ ” he said. “In Hungary, it is not money, it is just arrest.”
The Hungarian town of Asotthalom sits, invitingly, at the point where the national highway dips closest to the border, not far from the brick factory. Its mayor, Laszlo Toroczkai, a former activist in an anti-Semitic youth group who has since joined the right-wing Jobbik party, has drawn national attention for his fierce opposition to the migrant tide.
“I really respect Islam,” he said, seated in his small, sparsely decorated office in the town hall. “But Europe is not a continent of Islam. That’s why we fought them in the Middle Ages, to get them out.”
While Hungary has a responsibility to care for genuine refugees, he said, he believes that many crossing into Hungary are just illegal immigrants angling for a better life in a more open society.
Mr. Toroczkai is credited with first proposing the idea of building a fence along Hungary’s entire border with Serbia, which stretches more than 100 miles — something that the current government has begun to do.
“It is not important who had the idea first,” he said. “To me, the important thing is to protect the village, the country and Europe.”
The actual border near Asotthalom, a short drive from the mayor’s office, is little more than a narrow concrete bridge over a reed-choked creek, crisscrossed with steel cables to stop cars from passing.
“It’s become part of daily life here to see migrants,” said Barnabas Heredi, one of three locals hired by the mayor to act as “field police” and help patrol the border.
After checking the border bridge, he drove to an abandoned farm complex nearby, where migrants sometimes rest.
The yellow house was alive only with a frenzy of flies orbiting dozens of abandoned backpacks, sneakers, blankets and plastic bags.
“I don’t really feel sorry for them,” Mr. Heredi said. “Maybe the money we are spending to take care of them should be used to take care of Hungary’s poor.”
In the small Serbian town of Kanjiza, several miles east of Subotica, a slightly more affluent cluster of migrants gathered in a park beside the bus depot.
The walk across the border to Szeged, Hungary’s third largest city, is just 20 miles.
Many of them said they, unlike the campers at the brick factory, still had enough money to sleep in hotels, and to pay premium prices to trusted smugglers.
Annas, 26, a mechanical engineering student from Damascus, took shelter in the stifling shade. “The Syrian military wanted to take me for military service,” he said, “so I escaped.”
Serbian gangs stalk small groups of migrants in the borderlands, he said.
“If you are just four or five, you lose everything. That is why we travel in groups of 50.”
He described the plan: They would leave in less than an hour and try to arrive in Szeged shortly after midnight. A certain taxi stand is known to have cars waiting every night between 3 and 5 a.m., to drive anyone with 100 euros the two hours north to Budapest, no questions asked.
From there, minivans would continue the journey into Germany for another 400 euros a person.
“It is possible if you know where to go and you have enough money,” Annas said.
A young man with a pointed beard barked an order and the group rose, gathered its belongings and shuffled across a nearby street.
Slowly, they ambled through a block of townhouses, across an empty park and up the hill to a shimmering lake. They went past a playground where children hammered a soccer ball against a metal door, and along an earthen berm toward a distant stack belching smoke, before turning and vanishing into the woods.
“I am really interested in them,” said Tibor Varga, an evangelical Christian minister whose Eastern European Outreach Mission in Subotica has been gathering food and water for the brick factory migrants. “I want to know their story.”
Europe has entered into a post-Christian era, he said, and Islam is part of the evil, along with homosexuality and abortion.
“The punishment is coming,” he said.
But with luck and decent treatment, the migrants might well embrace “European values,” Mr. Varga said.
“We all make our own decisions about how we will react to them,” he said. “It is a test of humanity. In this way, you see, everybody is passing their exams.”