Once again, the world’s attention was focused on the Balkans this week. But this time, at least, it was not about war or ethnic conflict in the so-called “tinderbox of nations.” No. The issue now is the massive presence of refugees from Syria who are crossing to terra ferma in Greece, and are now pressing on the Macedonian border in order to get deeper into Europe.
What is happening in Macedonia is emblematic of refugee problems that are brewing in different corners of the globe – and for which the world has few good solutions. The images from the Balkans are a depressing reminder of what might happen on a much larger scale when climate change starts eating more land and pushes more people to leave their homes in poor low-lying states. They are a reminder of the terrible situation of many African refugees – these modern slaves who pay pirates small fortunes to transport them to Europe’s doorstep. Thousands of hopeless people have already drowned in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean and reach the promised land of Europe, a continent with its own serious problems. It’s important to remember these often-invisible people.
But have you ever wondered, decades later, what might become of some of the war-torn places that refugees have fled? Here’s a brain-teaser of a story. After the terrible civil war in former Yugoslavia during the ’90s, the tiny little pockets between the hostile countries of Serbia and Croatia became no man’s land. Liberland is a small, abandoned territory – three square kilometers of wasteland that nobody wanted for more than decade. Then an eccentric gentleman from the Czech republic decided to proclaim that piece of nothing an independent state. Read here what happened.