By Cassie Werber – Quartz, 1 September 2015


At the Hungarian border. (Photo: Reuters/Marko Djurica)


Last week saw yet another horrible development in Europe’s refugee crisis: the discovery of 71 bodies in an airless truck, abandoned by an Austrian highway.

But the tragedy seems to have galvanized an uprising. Yesterday, Austrians took to the streets in Vienna, to say that they don’t want Europe to become a “mass grave” for people fleeing conflict in other parts of the world.

At least 20,000 people marched, some holding banners that read “Refugees welcome” and “I don’t want Europe to be a mass grave.”

It’s part of a grassroots movement across the continent in which citizens tired of government inaction—and in some cases, brutality—are taking it upon themselves to help mitigate the suffering of those who have crossed into their countries.

In Germany, football crowds raised banners in support of refugees. Germany is bearing a much greater share of the burden than any other country in Europe, and expects as many as 800,000 refugees this year, which has led to pockets of tension.


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[…] Before the Syrian uprising of 2011, 60% of Syria’s land experienced the most severe and prolonged drought, causing crop failures in the land where agriculture began in the Fertile Crescent some 12,000 years ago. Extreme events like intense droughts are one aspect of global climate change. The impact of the drought was aggravated by non-sustainable use of land and water through promotion of non-sustainable agricultu- re. More than 80% crops failed, more than 75% livestock died, wiping out livelihoods and forcing a mass migration of more than a million farmers and herders to cities contributing to social instability and the country’s civil war.[…]

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