I want to talk about a pressing issue: the pressure of Syrian bodies against the fence of Hungary. I am appalled and angry that we who live in comfort simply tsk-tsk over those fleeing for their lives.
After WWII, there were seven million displaced persons: people from concentration camps, Europeans who fled bombed homes, former soldiers, freed POW’s, all just walking to where home used to be. None had food, clothing, shelter, papers or money.
The Red Cross registered them — on 3 x 5 cards — to help them find loved ones who might still be alive.
Let’s do this exodus right — with all our technology. Babies are dying from lack of organization and exploitation. THAT offends me to my soul.
Just as many of the refugees are using smartphones, we can do this with technology and social media to get out the word. www.RefugeeCentral or some such. Facebook and Twitter can save lives.
Here’s my idea.
Put someone in charge. I nominate Bill & Melinda Gates, full-time philanthropists with excellent organizational skills. Their Foundation knows how to work with the Red Cross, etc. I see a Nobel Peace Prize here.
Have two (or more) refugee processing centers, One in Turkey to prevent people from making the deadly crossing to Greece and one in Serbia, for those locked out of Hungary. (Alternatively, provide water crossings to Lesbos and do the refugee center there — putting the human traffickers out of business. It also has tourism infrastructure.)
Lease a warehouse. Fill it with technology. Every nation with diplomatic relations with Turkey or Serbia (or Greece) can put an official mini-embassy in there to issue visas. Staff if with a gaggle of translators. Lease a hotel if needed to house everyone. Or put up barracks.
Ask Doctors Without Borders to lead medical care. We want refugees healthy when they leave.
Since you’ll have refugees arriving and leaving, they’ll need temporary food, clothing, housing, and laundry facilities. Big job. Tide did Loads of Love after Katrina. I see a SuperBowl ad.
Most important? SOCIAL MEDIA. Each refugee housing area needs high-speed internet and computers. The computer literate will lead the others in their research. I love Google.
As for the refugee processing centers, post continual updates for each center. Have a way to make appointments to avoid overcrowding. And make sure everything in it is computerized.
Refugees don’t have lots of identification. Most don’t want their relatives at home jeopardized, so home nation passports are moot. Create a temporary passport for refugees. Doesn’t matter which country issues it, just stamp every page in red “REFUGEE” followed by an automatic one year expiration date. To get out of a war, I’d be a citizen of Borneo for a year, wouldn’t you?
Pictures, fingerprints, and wham, you have a passport. Don’t forget bar-coded wrist bands (double for parents and children) to track their progress. That makes it easy to find rambunctious little Hamoudi when he gets separated from parents.
Background checks are difficult — which of the 10,000 “Ali Aziz” guys is on the terrorism watch list? Remember, few terrorists risk everything to get their children to safety. Did you know first generation immigrants have a lower crime rate than native-born Americans?
Health needs addressed, passport in hand, now where to go? Have friends of relatives somewhere? Go there. No place to go? Let the refugees shop. There’s got to be a FedEx in Belgrade or Turkey to print up basic information on each nation in Arabic. Donate this service and FedEx has a SuperBowl ad. Of course, it’s also on the website that everyone in camps can access.
Once a refugee family has chosen a country, book them a reservation, print out a confirmation, and put them in a hotel the night before. Everyone deserves to leave clean and well-rested. Bus them to the airport. Give them a voucher for food at the airport. If they have bonded with another family or other relatives, keep them together. Peer social support is far cheaper than social workers.
Upon entering the new country, the nice people at immigration direct them to the aid workers waiting for them. The computer has already told the receiving end who is coming and when.
Refugee choice works up to a percentage of host country population. 0.5% would be a nice number. We’d get 1.5 million, Germany 400,000 max, England 300,000 max, etc. If some country wants to take more, God bless ’em.
And since Saudi Arabia doesn’t want any refugees, they get to pick up the tab for leaving: the night in the hotel, airport transportation and airline tickets. Plus vouchers for incidentals in the airport.
That airport food’ll get ’em every time.