While the meal finished cooking (chicken in a green sauce based on spinach), he explained: “Very simple. The soldiers come into the yard where many families live. A neighbor says: this one speaks Malinké. Or they ask questions in their language and the Malinké can’t answer. They take the Malinké men to the center of the yard and they shoot them. This is how it happened for my uncle. One of my cousins was lucky because the soldiers accepted money instead of killing him. ”
Somewhere else, of course, roles might be reversed, with the Malinké doing the shooting. Or the northerners vs the southerners. Or vice-versa.
Hard not to think about real-life stories while reading the latest on “securing frontiers”. Syrian families fleeing death and persecution greeted with tear gas and stun bombs on the Macedonian-Greek frontier. Erythrians mangled on barbed wire, attempting to reach the mythical Euro tunnel. The real life stories are everywhere, along with the glaring discrepancies in budget allocations for Security vs Aid. Never mind Health or basic needs. Infra-red body heat detectors: yes. Garbage bags, water, half-decent access to the basics: sorry, no budget.
The Best of cynicism: “We shall intensify our efforts to offer aid to those who wish to return to their country of origin,” say the British and French ministers. Someone risks death a thousand times over, and you invite him or her to run the gamut again, back to the point of departure? A bit of chemically-laced incentive, while we’re at it? Tear gas, at your service. A bit of mechanical aid? Truncheon, at the ready.
You are naive, they say. We are fighting the good fight against the scum exploiting human misery. Our methods are humane and our motives, the finest. Besides, these people are illegals. No papers or forged, or birth certificates more than three months from their date of issuance. They lost their papers in a bombing raid, they say. That’s what they all say, Madame. Trust us. We know what this is all about. You want us to allow criminals into this country?
One of the threads in story? Yes. Not the simplest to get right.