For the last two years I, along with my husband, have been researching migrants for our ongoing project The Book of Journeys. We started with economic migrants from Africa to Europe in 2013 and, for the last year and half, have been looking at Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The current developments are therefore not a surprise to me. What we in the West have to accept is our part in the original conflict which caused this. Our constant meddling, in pursuit of the exalted black gold - oil - has destabilized the Middle East for decades and now the results of this are flooding our shores. We often take a superior attitude in Europe; we have our nice lives, where even the poorest of us have the luxury of a state safety net to ensure the basics but we sneer at those who are desperately trying to find a life with a semblance of security.
As a migrant who has not lived in my homeland for over a decade, I am an advocate for open borders. Contrary to the arguments, a balance is found. Wealthy countries are not flooded, as they are often too expensive and do not offer enough work to provide the basics for many migrants.
Being immersed in this subject for the last few years has opened my eyes. The people I have talked to, the stories I have heard, have made me realize that we all as humans need to develop empathy and compassion and tear down the borders which separates us from each other. Nationalism, racism, religionism, are all constructs which divide and reinforce prejudice and hatred. The world can only evolve into a better, more empathic place if we start to see people as purely people and not “the other” or a threat to our own cosy existence. We cannot solve the Syrian crisis overnight, nor is there an easy solution, but we can start ti understand that we in the West are part of the cause and must therefore be part of the solution.