Take refuge

Rumour has it that our world’s industrialised countries have perhaps not been under so much pressure to take action on confronting the ever growing dilemma of refugees as they are today.

Back in the day there were waves of people attempting to flee Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. Nowadays, we’re facing thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a breath of hope as a repercussion of the war in Syria.

Indeed, we’re talking about refugees and what is being referred to as the worst global refugee crisis in decades.

We’re all accountable for sharing the burden of helping our neighbour, of taking people in and lending a hand; yet the calls for industrialised countries to shelter some 130,000 Syrian refugees seems to be falling on deaf ears, and if not, processes to make any effort in that direction seem to be near impossible, not because of the technicalities of hosting ‘more’ people within a country but because of fear that terrorists may sneak in along with the refugees.
Is there then a correlation with the identity of these displaced people? I have to wonder if there would be a different approach, should we be referring to, let’s say, Belgian refugees?

Having just returned from Istanbul I might be biased as to what it really is to face the identities and future of peoples who admittedly come from an entirely different world than ours. There, the obvious coming together of east and west proves that there is a way of living in unity, with the more fortunate, and the less, without assuming that there is any place in the world that doesn’t have its issues.

Alarm bells are ringing. The 50 or so children that died on a boat that capsised off Libya on Sunday is another indication of this and also proves that matters are getting worse. I have this eerie feeling that the borders we’re creating around our ‘industrialised’ nations are precisely ‘industrial’.

If I really belong to a factory of bureaucrats who can’t find a balance between being human and taking care of their own at the same time, then the factory I belong to should perhaps be classed as a new, upcoming camp of refugees; a camp of refugees who will flee the establishment and seek another utopia.

*** Published in the Cyprus Weekly

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London