Dr. Apostolos Veizis, Executive Director of INTERSOS Hellas, joined the show “Contradictions on Crete TV” of the television station “Crete TV” in order to speak with the journalist Giorgos Sahinis where he analyzed issues related to the fierce war that affects Ukraine and the grave consequences for the people of this country.
«Judging by what I saw myself, and what my Intersos colleagues see on a daily basis on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and the Polish-Ukrainian border, the general picture is very difficult. From early on, our team has been there while we also recently arrived in Ukraine. We are currently counting more than 2,500,000 people who have crossed the border into neighboring countries. About 2 to 3 million people are internally displaced out of a total of 44 million people who are essentially part of the Republic of Ukraine.
The images at the border are really shocking with children who had no expression, did not speak, with mothers who were brought to the doctor’s office with the question “Why does my child not speak?” and whenever we tried to give them an answer they cried. Whenever the children were looking at the thermometer, they thought they had a gun pointing at them and they were terrified. This situation is the war of a lost generation that we are trying to protect, while all this time fathers have been left behind to fight and mothers have taken their children away in order to save them. Several mothers used to tell us: “Take our children to save them and we will go back lest this country be saved in order to ensure them a future”.
Unfortunately, I have the feeling that these people are heading somewhere without even knowing in fact where they are going to. Apart from what Europe states, meaning that “we should welcome the Ukrainian refugees, our brothers, the Christians, the blondes, etc.”, I think that what you see is these people getting lost into something else, pretty far from this point. And when the news about the refugees from Ukraine stop being shown and being disseminated through the media, then I am afraid that their situation will be even worse.
In 2015 in Greece we called it a refugee crisis but it wasn’ t even close to what a refugee crisis is, and suddenly Europe’ s mentality changes towards 2,500,000? Europe says “welcome, there is no problem at all”. This time Europe has shown that can and when wants it, Europe make things work, it mobilizes everything. Decisions were already made yesterday by European leaders, in Strasbourg, stating how many Ukrainians they will receive as well as the neighboring countries, and announcing the instructions that are given at the border so as to protect these people. And right now, let me just say that a systematic propaganda has been spreaded by all the governments calling on the municipalities, the Civil Society and asking to embrace the refugees. In fact, a platform “Helping Ukraine” has been launched in many countries. Now European governments use more and more phrases such as “We embrace refugees”. The irony here is that refugees who are on the border of Poland and Belarus are being welcomed, when at the same time other refugees are pushed back to Chios, Samos and Evros, while the accommodation centers on the mainland are transformed into closed centers in the same way this happened in Katsika of Ioannina, in Samos and soon in Lesvos.
So, we are talking about a refugee crisis and à la carte solidarity. I believe that European governments themselves used to talk about a hybrid war, and that civil society organizations are part of a network of traffickers, so refugees have been criminalized from the very beginning, as well as the very meaning of solidarity. The governments suddenly decided to welcome refugees and call again on Civil Society not only to welcome people from the East but also those from the West. It is obvious that these governments are doing this only for political and not humanitarian reasons. To European governments, these people are just numbers, the means of implementing a political agenda that will not change anything for the next day. What worries me, is that all the Greek and other citizens who have always shown solidarity, their actions of solidarity will be betrayed because they have to ask their own governments to change their minds and the policies we are pursuing. Otherwise we will have this drama getting worse and if it is knocking on the door of Ukraine at the moment, I am afraid that the next door will be even closer…
According to my opinion, what I can’t stop thinking about this war is the children who experience it. Of course, every war has the same color, the same taste. But these children I have seen on the Ukrainian-Polish border, their condition is what shocked me. The adversity these children deal with under the bombings, in the basements, cannot be described. They had to walk for days and at the moment they are in a difficult position where they do not know what the future holds for them. If these kids are saved, of course we should not forget the other generations because they are also needed to support these children.
European governments and international organizations aren’ t using a credible recording process. There is no record of unaccompanied minors. For them numbers only matter and the notion is “people crossing the borders”. By welcoming them is not what they actually need because later we will talk again about children who went missing, and for whom we have no idea where they went. And I think it’s very easy for some others who have no humanitarian motives to trap people in human trafficking among other things.
There is no excuse for Europe’ s unpreparedness either if we are taking about a war or a state of emergency, while it was possible for EU to manage situations for its own citizens as well as for the citizens it currently calls refugees and accepts them on the European ground».
Find the show here: https://youtu.be/xjba5oamCOo?t=2860