The Hidden “Crises”

After reading these three articles, an unfortunate reality that has upset me for a while now exists as an underlying topic that spans each one. We have been constantly experiencing a migrant and refugee crisis all around the world for much longer than most people can imagine. The issue is that these problems don’t become a “crisis” until it has been exposed as one by the media while it has either already been happening for years or it throws the rest of the migrant and refugee crisis in the rest of the world under a shadow, never to be heard of or seen until it finally gets the spotlight.


There is one aspect that has always bothered me about the outburst of strong emotional reaction and concern by the majority of people after the surfacing of the photo of the innocent young Syrian boy, Aylan, who was washed up onto the shore of Turkey during his family’s desperate journey to seek refuge from the war that has torn his country, his home, apart. The concerning issue around the reactions of people to this event is not necessarily how they reacted, but when they reacted. It had been known that this Syrian refugee crisis had been occurring for years before this image surfaced, but it had not received an uproar of emotional reactions or demanded action from the general population until the image surfaced, which does not under any circumstances belittle the despair and sympathy that Aylan deserved for how his life ended. However, it is unfortunate that after thousands of children just like Aylan had died on a similar journey, drowning after being flipped out of a raft trying to cross the rough tides of the Mediterranean Sea to seek a safer and better life or dying of starvation and dehydration along the path taken by foot to these refugee sites, this is the photo that brought the world, especially the western world, to a realization that this crisis was in fact happening.


It saddens me because not only had the Syrian refugee crisis been ignored until the media decided it needs to be seen, but so many other refugee crises have been kept in the dark due to the lack of exposure by the media, such as that occurring in Africa. Every time I read The Crossing or watch The Burning, I am still baffled and shocked at what I read and see, at the information I gain, at the horrid lives and experiences these people face. It disappoints me each time thinking of how the migrants trying to cross the border between Morocco and a territory of Spain have been left unheard and unseen for so long, with countless lives and bodies destroyed in the process. Without the media exposure, the brutality that these migrants experience while on their journey to where they hope to fulfill their dreams and live a better life prevents them from even getting any chance at this and most likely leads to them being killed in the process. With the corrupt actions of and agreements between Morocco and Europe, these men, women, and children are treated inhumanely as they try to seek asylum, and these actions go unseen and unheard of by the world, which allows these actions to continue unaffected. Hopefully, the future exposure of their brutal treatment will help ease the journey for those seeking refuge or provide them with an alternate method than the options they currently have in The Crossing and cease the brutality of the forces along the border, but until then, we must sit and wait, and many people will go on with their lives unaware of these atrocities until it becomes popular news/media.


But here lies the issue that will most likely exist forever. These problems and crises exist long before we are made aware of them, and it is disappointing to know that we live in this world unaware of the suffering that these people must deal with until the media decides it is something worth knowing. This is when we start to care and notice that there is a crisis when, in fact, the crisis has existed for much longer than we want to believe. Everyone is guilty of it, no matter how aware we may think we are, no matter how hard we try, because there will always be an untold story of others’ suffering that we may not know about and have no way of helping. Nikolaj Larsen’s installation of figures wrapped into human forms under body bags in the Mediterranean Sea that were washed up onto Italy’s shores is a great representation of countless Syrian, African, Mexican along with other Latin American migrants, and countless other groups of migrants in history and in the present who have lost their lives drowning in waters trying to seek refuge and/or a better life in another country but have been left unseen and unheard until a major event or uncovering makes it known. The End of Dreams represents those who have risked their lives on this journey only to be rejected by the places from which they seek refuge, similar to many countries’ “postcolonial exclusion and rejection of refugees,” as Larsen states.