Mon 26 Apr 2010
Last week I was stranded in Geneva, Switzerland for seven days following Iceland’s volcanic eruption. It was not a distressing experience: I had a comfortable hotel room, an office to go to, a conference to attend… Being restricted to watching CNN (the only English-language TV channel available) was about the worst inconvenience. Yet as CNN bleated on about the costly impact of Eyjafjallajökull on European airlines, it completely overlooked an important story.
In a letter to the International Herald Tribune one traveler unable to exit Frankfurt Airport due to his lack of a visa bemoaned his entrapment and that of others in the same predicament from countries such as China, India, Iran, Pakistan, or the Arab world, some with small children and most with no access to their luggage. Iranian-born academic Kaveh L Afrasiabi warned that, “with the harsh mistreatment of those passengers, the North-South gap has now grown deeper by a few inches.”
On blogs, Facebook pages and twitter feeds, first world travelers bemoaned their status as “volcano refugees,” but the real refugees were those trapped in these airports turned “temporary internment camps.” Read more about Germany’s discriminatory treatment here.