The long and winding road for (un)forgotten human beings

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Antonio Guevara Lopez, a third-year medical student at the Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Every single day, entire families are being forced from their homes. Their quest may seem simple to those who live in the west, but for them, it is not. They search for safety, a better life. They are risking everything to escape conflicts, poverty, hunger, often leaving with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.

Like so many think, migration is not a threat to be stopped, it is a complex phenomenon that needs to be managed. The problem is that governments keep failing to meet their legal and moral obligations to provide safety and assistance to vulnerable people in need of protection.

Many migrants that try to illegally cross the borders, die on the way due to many factors – drowning, low temperatures, high temperatures, thirst, among others. And the ones who survive are left in very poor conditions. In 2015, at the height of the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Syria, Aylan, the boy who drowned and whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, became a symbol of the despair and struggle of the thousands of refugees who arrived in Europe every day to escape the civil war. The image went around the world, raising awareness of the problem and the need to help these people.

According to the latest statistics, the number of forced migrants worldwide exceeds 65 million and continues to rise. The peak of migration is still behind us and there’s still a long way to go. There has been a great inability to respond with one voice to this world issue. Everyday there are also some unbelievable stories brought up.

Focusing on very current cases, the names of Miguel Duarte, Sean Binder, resonate, loudly, in the most shameful moments for many of the European states. These volunteers put their lives and everything they had for the safeguarding of human life. And they are being judged as criminals… It seems surreal, like something so clear can be seen in such a distorted way. Allied to this criminalization of human beings who only try to help other human beings, countries who violate human rights are not criminalized.

So, how can each one of us contribute to a better future?

Know that there are always ways to make a contribution to reducing the suffering, whether they are in host countries, in refugee camps or in their own countries. Monetary aid, essential goods and also volunteers to collaborate on the ground. Everything and everyone is essential.

Bertold Brecht used to write: “There are men who struggle for a day and they are good. There are men who struggle for a year and they are better. There are men who struggle for many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives: These are the indispensable ones.” Let’s unite in search of a cure for one of the greatest diseases of all time – indifference… And therefore, maybe we will have back the most wonderful thing of all – our humanity.

About the author

Antonio Guevara Lopez is a third-year medical student at the Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. He is a scientific researcher and communicator. He currently is the scientific vice-president of the Aerospace Medicine and Life Science Student Club in Portugal and also participates in a lot of volunteering projects.  He believes that we all can be better professionals, better persons every day and fight for a world with more kindness, higher tolerance, more compassion, less hate and envy with just small acts of random kindness.

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