For three months, Ammy saw the sun for just seconds each day. She was one of dozens of women locked in a room. The door was opened once a day when the guards handed out the daily ration of food: nine dishes of pasta for 90 women.
Beatings were common. Rape was common. Ammy said the men “were tortured with water, with sticks, not given food: They looked like dead men walking.”
Is this one of United States President Donald Trump’s “concentration camps” that you’ve heard so much about in the news?
No. This is life for migrants trying to cross into Europe.
Ammy tried to flee from Eritrea to Europe. After being brutalized by traffickers for 10 months, she managed to finally board a ship bound for Europe. But the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted the ship and took her to one of Tripoli’s many detention centers.
After living in these centers for months, she was flown to a hub run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (unhcr). There she shared her journal with freelance journalist Giacomo Zandonini.
Her experience is common. In the Triq al-Sika center, near Tripoli, 1,000 people are shut in a dark warehouse. During the day, they can use the bathroom, but at night, they are locked in. The number of people in these centers varies, but last November the total was estimated at 20,000.
This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.
Around 500,000 live in unhcr camps across the Middle East and North Africa. These camps are often merely tents in the desert, yet they are much better than the centers in Libya. The UN staff ensure they have food and water, but the unhcr can’t keep them safe. They have to rely on local security forces, which are often corrupt and abusive of their power. In several camps, police and security officers allow gangs to rape, torture and hold refugees for ransom—or they themselves perpetrate these evils.
The region also includes 2.5 million refugees and 14 million internally displaced persons who have lost their homes but have not crossed their nation’s borders. Several hundred thousand refugees live in Libya, in either government detention centers, trafficker hideouts or, at best, temporary housing.
These migrants are subjected to just about every misery imaginable. And Europe is complicit in all of it.
The Libyan Coast Guard is funded and trained by Italy. “The European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean [is] inhuman,” said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. He accused the international community of turning a “blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya.” Doctors Without Borders president Joanne Liue said the EU is “feeding a criminal system of abuse.” Amnesty International wrote, “European governments are actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.”
Europe also works with Algeria, providing money to help with the migrant crisis. Germany is helping to arm and train Algeria’s army and navy with the equipment it needs to guard its borders. One of Algeria’s policies is simply to take migrants to the southern border and leave them there. The trouble is, that border is in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Since September last year, Algeria has left over 10,000 people at this border. Soldiers usually confiscate the refugees’ mobile phones, if they have them, so no one can record their brutality. No one knows how many people have died in the desert.
The EU also partners with Sudan. President Omar al-Bashir deems never to have met a terrorist group he did not like. Bashir invited Osama bin Laden to the country in the 1990s, shipped weapons for Hamas, and invited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to set up camp. Wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, he is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court.
He is also the proud recipient of tens of millions of dollars in cash from the EU.
The EU also trains and equips border guards; some of these guards allegedly work with Islamist militias and trafficking gangs.
Turkey has been one of Europe’s main partners on migration. Over the last few years, Turkey has built a 10-foot-high wall along its border with Syria. Despite the pope’s and the German chancellor’s condemnation of Mr. Trump’s wall, they have no problem with this one. In fact, the EU is helping Turkey pay for it, giving €35.6 million (us$41.5 million) to Turkish arms company Otokar to build vehicles to patrol the border, as well as cash for patrol boats along the coastal border.
On March 29, Der Spiegel published an investigation into the situation at the Turkish border. One eyewitness reported that “Turkish soldiers indiscriminately opened fire on the refugees.”
“Although his claims are difficult to verify, the details do seem to line up and correspond with reports from over a half-dozen witnesses interviewed by Der Spiegel,” the magazine wrote. “Last Thursday, Human Rights Watch reported similar cases, as well as mass deportations of Syrian refugees from Turkey.”
If Israel shoots-to-wound terrorists crossing its border, it’s a war crime. But Europe pays Turkey, which allegedly shoots refugees, and we don’t hear a peep.
For those migrants who make it through Turkey and into Greece, more camps await.
Even within Europe itself, migrants live in camps. npr described the conditions in one camp on a Greek island in March: “Trash lined every corridor. The overwhelming stench of rotting garbage, urine and feces made them want to vomit. The few toilets overflowed with human waste. Women shared tents with unrelated men.” Camps built to hold 2,000 regularly hold 6,000.
European governments have a duty to defend their borders. I don’t condemn them for that. However, the plight of the migrants is depressing. But if Europe opens its borders, it won’t fix the problem. It would make things worse in Europe and tempt even more into making the dangerous journey. Both Africa and Europe would end up worse off.
They have no choice but to work with some unsavory characters. If they only did business with paragons of democracy, they’d have no partners in the Middle East and North Africa except Israel. Often, the central government of these countries has little control over the actions of their police and border guards—the EU has even less control.
What is egregiously wrong here is the hypocrisy. If you say Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler because he wants to build a border wall, or because just under 2,000 migrant children were temporarily separated from parents who entered the country illegally rather than using legal points of entry, how is Europe not guilty of far worse? Syrian migrants have been killed by soldiers armed and trained by Europe. If you believe Mr. Trump’s actions are terrible, then how are Europe’s not many, many times worse?
And Europe is looking to set up more camps.
Last week I wrote about Angela Merkel’s precarious hold on her job. She has until the end of the month to find a European solution to the migrant crisis, or her chancellorship could be over.
The solution remains elusive, but the most promising angle is to set up more migrant camps in Libya. The unhcr has already offered to set up these facilities, according to a confidential letter seen by the EU Observer.Other proposals call for a beefed-up EU border force, which would intercept and presumably detain and return incoming refugees.
Europe is already working in countries across North Africa. France has led major military missions in Mali and the Central African Republic. The EU currently has missions to train Mali’s police force and army.
From 2014 to 2020, the European Development Fund and the EU Trust Fund of Africa aim to give over $1 billion to Niger—a huge sum for a country’s whose annual gross domestic product is only $7.5 billion. In return, Niger has changed its laws to make migration more difficult. France, Italy and Germany all have soldiers there, many on training missions. “Niger is now the southern border of Europe,” said one European ambassador.
The latest proposals will draw Europe much deeper in. The EU is learning the same lesson Rome did over 2,000 years ago—the defense of Southern Europe starts in Northern Africa.
Europe has a wall. It is made of border agents, armored cars, patrol boats, rifles, cash payments, detention centers and camps. And it’s building this “wall” a lot more aggressively than Mr. Trump is building his.
Moral qualms will not stop European leaders. They clearly don’t hold themselves to the same standard that they hold Mr. Trump. They are not pursuing some “enlightened,” “tolerant” approach to migration. They are looking for ways to stop it. And this is leading to a major, real-world clash of civilizations.
“Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in the April 2013issue. He described radical Islam, backed by Iran, making inroads into the area. “But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa,” he continued. “Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can. They will inevitably clash with each other.”
It’s a bleak picture for the millions of abused migrants in North Africa. But this clash also leads to these migrants’ only hope. Mr. Flurry continued:
The reason this is so significant is that these two powers are prophesied to clash in the end time. Daniel 11:40 speaks of a war between “the king of the south,” which we can prove to be Iran and radical Islam, and “the king of the north,” which we know to be Germany leading a group of nations. (Request our free booklets The King of the South and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for the proof of the modern identities of these powers.)
A great prophecy of your Bible is about to be fulfilled! You need to watch what is happening in the Middle East and Africa!
Since Mr. Flurry wrote his article, Germany and Europe’s involvement in North Africa has increased dramatically. This clash is drawing far closer. The Bible warns that this clash leads into World War iii. “That war is prophesied in detail—including all the horrors you can imagine from nuclear war!” wrote Mr. Flurry. “Jesus Christ said that if He didn’t intervene, no flesh would be saved alive! (Matthew 24:21-22).”
“We are living in that time Christ prophesied about,” concluded Mr. Flurry. “Thankfully, He will intervene and save us from ourselves! You can be absolutely sure that He’s about to return to this Earth and solve all of our terrifying problems. That is the most magnificent—and sure—prophecy of all: that this world will be ruled by the King of kings, who will establish peace on this Earth and in the universe forever.”
The problem of refugees and global poverty is one of man’s toughest—and one he has no solution for. But it is one of those “terrifying problems” that Jesus Christ will solve. For more on how God aims to solve all these problems, read our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What it Will Be Like, by Herbert W. Armstrong. ▪