In March 2016 I read an article in the Norwegian newspaper titled ‘New Walls of Europe’. The article mentioned a refugee camp called ‘Idomeni’ that was situated between northern Greece and Macedonia. On the 9th March 2016, Macedonia closed its border. Thousands of refugees were stranded in Greece in horrible conditions. Idomeni camp was eventually shut down and refugees were evacuated. The situation in Idomeni made a significant impact on me and I wrote a poem called ‘Walls’. Idomeni was a gateway for refugees to Europe in 2015, and this year it became a symbol for closed European borders.

Unfortunately, refugees are facing uncertain future in other parts of the world as well. For example, Pakistan wants to repatriate almost 1.6 million Afghan refugees who have been living in the country for decades. Kenya is shutting down world’s largest refugee camp known as Dabaab, along with Kakuma camp and last but not the least, a recent documentary called ‘Chasing Asylum’ has exposed the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australian offshore detention centers in Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. These disturbing reports and developments show that refugees are exposed to violence, gross discrimination, sexual assaults and poor living conditions. The global refugee number has hit a record high: 65.3 million displaced individuals. We are facing the largest refugee crisis in history.

No-one wants to leave their homes and set out on capricious and brutal journeys unless that is their only chance for survival. We come from different backgrounds but we play a central role in building the fabric of our communities, societies and nations. Therefore, we need to reflect and decide what we can offer. #RefugeeWeek2016 is over, but there is still a lot of reflection and action to take.

Will we learn from our history and do better? Or will we continue building more walls?


you build up walls
you tear down walls
in this up-and-down process
you forget to assess


look around

those whom you fear
have already drowned
rest of them are bowed down


you are not bound
to build more walls
just embrace the helpless calls


who knew
first it was the Jews
and now it’s your views
of scarf-covered women
and tired brown wanderers
as wolfish fortune-hunters
but do you ever wonder
what good will these walls do
their sufferings are not new
and they’re not few

can your walls stop the ache
can they break or remake
what is lost
and what it costs
to leave home
and endlessly roam
to places unknown
all alone

you sit in your halls
and order walls
so you don’t have to hear
moans and groans

it is easier to be a pharaoh
and throw an arrow
when you sit safely on your throne
and think you own the zone

you feel insulted
you feel interrupted
therefore, your answer is Idomeni
you’ve banished more souls than Khomeini

so listen, before you build more walls
and sell bombs for Riyal
don’t presume that you’ll pass
the big EU test
by building fences around your nest

you’re building new walls
on old scars and trenches
causing pain
that still wrenches

walls cannot succumb
disparity’s outcome
they are on the run
and you show them the gun

you expect your walls
to give a clue
are you kidding me
go live in a zoo

but remember one thing
misery it will only bring
and when times will swing
people will march
and take charge

and as I recall
your walls will always fall
so why get into these brawls

the concrete in your walls
is weak after all.