European Union flag.

Europa’s reality check

BERLIJN – Tot een paar weken geleden geloofden Europeanen dat ze in een soort heiligdom leefden, veilig afgescheiden van de huidige conflicten in de wereld. Zeker, het nieuws en de beelden van verdronken migranten waren verschrikkelijk; maar de tragedie die zich ten zuiden van Italië, Griekenland en Malta voltrok leek ver weg.

De wrede burgeroorlog in Syrië, die al jarenlang woedt, leek zelfs nóg verder weg. De Syrische president Bashar al-Assad zette gifgas en later fragmentatiebommen met spijkers en stukjes metaal in tegen zijn eigen, opstandige volk. En degenen die wisten te ontsnappen aan de beulen van Assad werden geconfronteerd met de terreur van de Islamitische Staat. Honderdduizenden vonden de dood, en miljoenen Syriërs zijn gevlucht. De meesten van hen wonen al jaren in kampen in Jordanië, Libanon of Turkije, in erbarmelijke omstandigheden, zonder enige hoop op verbetering.

Ergens deze zomer, toen het laatste glimpje hoop op een terugkeer naar Syrië was verdwenen en een alternatief voor Assad en de Islamitische Staat niet langer realistisch leek, begonnen deze mensen naar Europa te trekken. Dat continent leek een belofte van vrede, vrijheid en veiligheid te belichamen. De vluchtelingen kwamen via Turkije, Griekenland en de Balkanstaten, of staken de Middellandse Zee over om te ontsnappen aan soortgelijke chaos in Eritrea, Libië, Somalië en Soedan.

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