Sunday 23 September 2018

Borders are closing and hearts are hardening

A mother and daughter in Mexico last week after being denied entry to the US. Photo: Getty
A mother and daughter in Mexico last week after being denied entry to the US. Photo: Getty

Fergal Keane

They were sitting in neat lines. The women, children and men. Mostly old men. People carrying their lives in bags of canvas, nylon and plastic. Some had nothing at all to carry. They were after crossing from the Turkish side during the night and were tired and hungry. Babies were crying. We had come by the safe route, the ferry from Izmir to Lesbos. We were people with passports that mattered. The same colour as Homer's ''wine-dark sea''.

From ferry to landfall to immigration, our journey into our European homeland would take 15 minutes at most.

The other ones, the people with the passports of a country in flames, passports of the Syrian Arab Republic, would watch us pass, walking at our ease while they sat under a blazing noonday sun that caused the youngest and the oldest to sway.

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