The earthquakes of hypocrisy in Syria and Turkey

We are following with bewilderment, sadness and frustration the aftermath of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. Millions of people whose lives will never be the same again. Lives lost, lives mourned, lives forced to migrate in search of safety.

Nature rules. Natural disasters happen and will happen. Humanitarian catastrophes, on the contrary, are avoidable; it only depends on our will.

No Name Kitchen proposes a very simple formula to make these earthquakes hurt a little less: ensure that people who want to migrate from Syria or Turkey to Europe have legal and safe ways to do so.

It is not enough to put little Turkish and Syrian flags next to the scoreboard of televised football matches, it is not enough to mourn or to send in the clothes we have left over from our wardrobe. It takes generosity and true empathy.

Thousands of people are still trapped at the borders of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia or Morocco, fleeing from wars, dictatorships, poverty (also people from Syria and from Turkey)…, but migration policy remains xenophobic and cruel to those who do not have a full wallet, white skin and a bible in their suitcase. People condemned to walk hundreds of kilometres, risking their lives between rivers, mountains and seas, and being subjected to constant physical and psychological abuse.

No Name Kitchen, a movement born and raised on the borders, supports every day Syrian people who migrate to try to join their families, but without the possibility of doing so through legal and safe channels.

Perhaps these soil movements will also move the seats of the European Parliament and the European Commission to ensure the right to migrate in a humane and respectful way. It is time for governments like Spain to heed the Supreme Court and stop denying Refugee Status to Syrians who were taken in under the Resettlement programme in 2015. This video features a group of young Syrian men trapped at the EU border in winter 2021.

By Joan Giralt

While the European Union makes deals with Turkey to block the passage of refugees, we know first-hand of countless Syrians living in Turkey without access to a dignified life, papers, freedom and rights as a Turkish citizen, as Turkey only recognises the Refugee Convention for those coming from Europe.

A year ago, the outbreak of fighting in Ukraine showed us the possibility of opening the borders in an orderly manner for those fleeing violence.

We demand only the same: a dignified and efficient welcome system for all people.

And no. NNK is not planning to intervene in Turkey and Syria. Our mandate is humanitarian political activism. We don’t save lives, we are much more humble. We only aim to end violence and xenophobia at the borders.

Organizations taking advantage of the circumstance

Yet this fact does not allow us to ignore how the so-called humanitarian agencies activated their fundraising machinery within hours, promising to help the victims of the earthquake. When a catastrophe of this magnitude occurs, emotions run high and it is much easier to raise donations. We respect, applaud and support this solidarity.

At the same time, we suggest that before donating, people should be well informed about the destination of their contributions, prioritising those organisations that already had a presence and actions in the places impacted by the earthquake.

While small groups continue to work directly with the people, without large structures or dilution of funds, UN agencies such as IOM, Unicef or UNHCR have been working for years at the European borders, financed by the same European institutions that deny the right to seek asylum, following political decisions even when inhuman and lock up Syrians or Afghans in detention camps as if they were criminals, instead of people with dreams, hope and the right to a free and peaceful life.