Refugees facing freezing conditions across Europe

Thousands of refugees stranded in Europe are struggling to survive freezing temperatures, in particular in Greece and Serbia. The authorities on the Greek islands have failed in their attempt to relocate refugees to hotels. The Hungarian foreign minister, meanwhile, is holding firmly to the policy of keeping the border with Serbia closed. And Europe is just sitting back and watching, commentators write bitterly.

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Indifference kills

The refugees are dying not just because of the cold but also because of the Europeans' indifference to their plight, complains:

“The Europeans' sensitivity threshold is going up and up. It took heavy snow and a few deaths to get us to pay them a little bit of attention, because the constant drownings at sea no longer achieve this even when the victims are children. Nor can the months they spend stuck in camps in dreadful conditions, nor the police abuse they suffer, much less the regular updates on statistics. How many refugees are stranded in Greece? It doesn't matter to us if they say it's 6,000, 60,000 or 600,000. … The next cold front will be ignored completely. Repetition is boring. As long as there isn't an earthquake or an epidemic we can forget about the refugees for at least six months until the summer brings them a record heat wave.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Refugees are the residual waste of history

People are dying of exposure in European refugee camps and the Continent's ideals are dying with them, De Standaard laments:

“Hospitality - the simple humane principle that you don't just throw out even uninvited guests - hasn't survived. Sixty years of laborious but continuous progress as regards the unification of our continent, which was plagued by war for centuries, have come to an brutal standstill. Those member states that have to contend with the largest numbers of refugees didn't receive any support from others are further away. … But now the refugee problem is under control. The bouncers can breathe a sigh of relief and hope to receive their pay from the voters. It's just a pity about the tens of thousands who are stranded en route in the middle of winter. They just don't know their place. They must realise that they are the residual waste of history.”

Denník N (SK) /

Where is the "flexible solidarity"?

In view of the images of freezing refugees on the Balkan route Dennik N wonders what has become of the promises made by Slovakia and the other Visegrád states:

“One could expect that the right moment has come to demonstrate the 'flexible solidarity' that these countries announced during the Slovakian EU Council presidency. We don't want refugees on our own territory because they don't fit in with our culture and because terrorists might be hiding among them, it was said. Lending a hand in their countries of origin is no easy task; we lack the power and leverage to do so. But 'flexible solidarity' could help those stranded in Serbia. What was it the Slovakian Interior Minister Kaliňák said when explaining this principle? 'After all, migrants are people, not numbers.' ... So far all we've done is to send in policing forces. We're leaving the humanitarian aid to volunteers and NGOs.”