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  • Foto van schrijverBrigitte Opel

Expat / Fortune seeker / Refugee

These days, you can’t turn on the radio or television without hearing the latest numbers of people on their way to Germany, France, UK etc.

Less than 6 months ago, the same news channel broadcasted an item on attracting foreigners to fill skills gap in the (German) labor market. Now, the language has changed considerably.

It seems that we need to classify them in order to deal with them properly.

They are crossing the borders, but they are clearly no tourists as they don’t have a return ticket.

They are no nomads as they used to live in houses.

They didn’t make the trip as an “inter-company transfer” with mortgage and children’s private schooling paid for, so they are definitely no expats.

Some say they are fortune-seekers because they have nice shoes and a mobile phone – often with a grim tone of voice.

But in fact, most of them left their home and often their family out of despair:

  • Lost faith in the government and the system after the Fukushima disaster.

  • Lost perspective in the senseless destruction and idiotic war in Syria.

  • Lost homes and feeling of safety in the eyes of IS cruelty.

These people don’t understand what is happening in their country any more than we do. And they don’t know how to fight it.

And we all know: If things get scary, we either fight or we run. These people run, they are refugees. They follow their natural urge to protect their families and make sure their kids have a future. They left everything behind and went on a horrendous journey to get here.

They want a chance to live, not a piece of our pie.

The least we can do is to respect that.

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