“I think that people can identify themselves with the migrants because everyone has a passport, everyone uses the same objects. They smoke cigarettes. They wear branded clothes. Mainly I did it so I can attract the interest of the people that are tired of seeing sad moments and sad faces.,” photographer Pantelia, who was on the Greek island of Lesbos for the U.K. charity Save The Children, explained to CNN about her project “Flotsam”
Pantelia’s photography project “Flotsam” was born after the photographer’s attention was turned toward the objects abandoned by the migrants on the beach.
It is a shame that TV screens or newspaper front pages showing queues and queues of migrants fleeing desperate conditions are no longer enough to tug at the heartstrings of Westerners. And while the efforts of Pantelia are honorable, one wonders whether these will be enough to have any effect.
As politically incorrect as it might sound, the migrant crisis has revealed the deep racism that runs in European society. Or at least, a blatant lack of compassion.
It started with the comments by a strand of the population that the migrants had smartphones, as if in the era of Android phones, smartphones were a luxury to have. As if the assumption was that because the migrants had smartphones, they were therefore not deserving of help. Or worse, couldn’t be in need of help.
The U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron, started the ball rolling when he not only compared the migrants to “swarm of people”, but went on to say that they were coming to “seek a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it’s got a growing economy, it’s an incredible place to live.”
Of course, many organisations, such as the Refugee Council, as well as U.K. opposition leaders condemned the language used by the Prime Minister. But perhaps, he was doing nothing but using language that expressed the sentiment of most of the British population. It came as no surprise when the Conservatives won the last general elections.
This lack of compassion pervades all of Europe. And threats of border closures around Europe serve as examples.
Angela Merkel saw her “Wilkommen Politik” ratings drastically go down. In the U.K., vital services such as Starting Point, a former specialist unit for migrant children, have been cut. The Conservatives swept through in power in Poland yesterday.
Yet, these people would not have left their country had European leaders developed a clear policy as to how to help Syria, or had measured the consequences of invading countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.
So while the spirit behind “Flotsam” is to be saluted, the question is whether that will do anything to combat the biggest problem, which is racism.