Tuesday 28 April 2015

Migrants perishing in their attempt to come to Western Europe - the more things change the more they remain the same

The World has suddenly woken up to the disaster of migrants trying to cross over in little more than canoes from shores of Africa to Western Europe. Many have died and continue to die. I have just read another article about 14 migrants who lost their lives on the train tracks in Macedonia as they tried to cross into Western Europe by land.

The sheer number of people dying is sickening. Young, babies, women, children and men. Most it would appear desperately running away from violent persecution and poverty. Unfortunately this is not a new thing. If you ever find the time please read this academic work here. If it doesn't break your heart, you are made of stone.

In modern times, people have travelled through the Sahara desert, crossing borders, enduring violence and natural disasters to get to the Libyan coast in their desire to enter Western Europe. I have read the sad stories of many trying to travel by road from West Africa to the African coast in the hope of ending in Europe.

As it has been pointed out by Ed Miliband and others last week, the overthrow of Gaddafi has made the problem worse. Libya now appears to be a no mans land where anything goes. This has encouraged and emboldened the traffickers. Many more are dying because of the decision of the EU countries to cut back on Sea & Rescue patrols.

It is sad that the lessons of Iraq is lost on David Cameron and his fellow leaders. However what is sadder is the fact having failed to learn those lessons, they are then failing to deal with the consequences of their failure.

Is there a solution, I'm not sure there is one. Nothing can immediately change the violence and poverty the migrants are running away from. How much of the violence is caused by the Western countries is debatable but it is definitely a contributory factor.

However my one great suggestion which is also a solution to the issue of asylum seekers in Europe is for European countries (individually or jointly) to create a safe haven somewhere outside of Europe, a pseudo refugee 'town' where people genuinely fleeing violence can be protected and their genuine asylum claim assessed. If they are found deserving, they can then be helped to settle in the appropriate country either in line with EU guidelines or the asylum seekers preferences (possible family ties or language preferences). In my opinion, this will ensure that the economic migrants focus their efforts on genuine routes to legal residency or divert their attention to more welcoming countries.  This will only work however if Europe can protect its borders. I have however not seen anything to suggest it can.

Finally, I think back to my teenage years and the jokes I used to share with my friends during the  American Visa Lottery season. How we used to joke that if a ship turned up at the Port bound for America or Europe, that we will be the first to board the ship. How we used to jest.

Fast forward to 20years and how ironic that these migrants are doing the same thing. Paying serious money and battling hard to board these ships bound for the 'utopialand' of the West.  Sadly unlike our ancestors during the slave trade. Those proud ones ran in the opposite direction. They were sold down the river by their brothers. They fought hard not to be taken on the ships bound for Europe and America. But today, we willingly board the same ships. Enduring worse indignity. Shame really.

And  I complain about slave trade and racism. Maybe I should stop. Maybe I should shed a tear for my brothers and sisters and their kids hoping for something better in Europe but end up drowning in the unmarked grave that is the Mediterranean Ocean.

Shame on us

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