The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

A world apart

Rachel Borg Saturday, 25 April 2015, 08:26 Last update: about 6 years ago

The truth is slowly coming to the surface.   Each corpse of child, man or woman that is lifted from the sea and every mental image of a sunken ship with 300 bodies locked in the hold, now resting on the seabed, is a testament of the sacrifice and suffering waging deep in the heart of humanity.

The Mediterranean deaths, the traffickers, the rescue operations, the Dublin II agreements, are all symptoms of the crises, a big muddle of epic and tragic proportions.  The reckoning is now all around us.  Those who can, walk.  Those who can’t, sit and wait for the end.

Where they, the desperate men, women and children, go, is irrelevant.  To Europe, to Australia, to the USA.   It is the last psychosis.   The EU Commissioners, the UK, the national authorities need not waste any more breath arguing about a pull factor when providing rescue missions.  The true factor is the life or death factor thousands of kilometres away, in that desert hut, with no food, no prospects, no life.  Or in the dodging of bullets, the fear of chemical warfare, the tyranny of dictators and despots, the scourge of gangs, the gun of a trafficker, the slaughter- house of ISIS, the cold and hungry refugee camp, the violent sexual abuse, the tears of children, the sight of hunger, the message on a mobile from a relative in far-away safety, offering to give you a roof over your head, if you can make it, if you can risk it, if you can walk, swim, pay, hope and maybe, probably, die.

Believe it.  The holocaust is here now, even while we vow that it will never happen again.   There is a terrible war taking place in Syria, with millions of refugees.  There is an end- of- world emptiness in Somalia, an ideal ground for terrorists.  South Sudan is once again under attack, even whilst the refugee camps of Darfur are still tent cities and women must risk their life to fetch some water.  In Kenya it is dangerous to be a Christian.  Ethiopian Christians are butchered by IS wild beasts of the drug world.   Palestinians without a state. Tunisian victims of the Arab Spring. Libyan citizens fleeing the fighting.

And the EU debates Mare Nostrum or Frontex or whatever hopelessly inadequate response they can cobble together to keep the number of dead to acceptable proportions, the unwanted away, the survivors in reserve, and the good name of Europe alive.

For a continental transfer of humanity, a population shift on our borders,  the response is a transfer of cash and a “No refund” policy.  A shop sign will warn you – “You drop it you own it”.  The EU tells you “You saved it, you own it”.

Absolute state of denial. Absolute absence of respect to the dignity of life. Disregard of Human Rights. Complete silence.

The syntax is modified.  Illegal becomes Irregular.  Economic becomes push back.  Refugee becomes naval blockade.  Traffickers become business. 

In truth, globally and collectively, it is a crime against humanity.  A failure of the international order to strive for peace, security, freedom and a decent life in so many parts of the world.The United Nations as a political tool and little more.

Scroll back and see the countries which had been exploited in the past.   Look closely and see the terrorists now running the country like warlords.   Corruption choking the very last breath out of ghost territories.

First take your share of responsibility for the chaos, then offer collaboration to those countries who still have a chance to build an economy and to educate their children – girls included.  Put in place, without any further delay, a rescue mission and then, after the tide has turned, the empty boats are sunk, the routes properly regulated, only then, can we refuse the illegal immigrants or refer them to proper channels.

Similarly, the voice of those citizens in Europe, in particular, of Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain, needs to be heard.  The inhabitants of Lampedusa who see tragedy on a daily basis.  The poor families of a peripheral village in Italy, living side by side with immigrants housed in unsanitary buildings and for whom it is a daily reminder of the forgotten lives languishing on the side of the street.   The detention camps where the Mafia get rich off the EU contributions towards the maintenance of illegal migrants – a business they claim renders greater revenue than the drug trade.  The local towns and villages of Malta, where integration is poor and housing inaccessible due to the demand.

And all the while, the  EU sends inspectors to demand better conditions for the migrants.  Ask the other member states, though, the ones which are the real destination of choice for the migrants, if they will accept to accommodate and regularise the position of thousands who need it, and they will look the other way.

Why are IS allowed to slaughter Christians and other Muslims?  Why don’t governments provide for their people and when will the killing stop?

Let us be realistic about all the action plan proposals.  

If a naval force is deployed to the North African coast, it will be a sitting duck for ISIS rockets, the Pearl Harbour of the Med, an excuse to target the Pope and an opportunity for rogue states to force concessions from the West.   If a large scale rescue mission is mounted, the European citizens will cry foul.    Rising tensions will instigate a backlash onto the very survivors who make it to land.  Misery is perpetuated.  And, fair to say, the sovereign boundaries will be rendered useless. 

Peace in Syria is the highest priority, peace in Libya is the second priority, economic and judicial reform in all countries where the dignity of life has become dirt.  Peace between Israel and Palestine.  Peace in the Middle East.  Strong and legitimate leaders should replace the corrupt puppets and tyrants.  A mobilisation of Arab and Western forces now, to wipe out ISIS before all semblance and history of civilisation is lost.

In the meantime,  countries like Britain need to step up their quota drastically for Syrian refugees, especially those who already  have relatives living there and who can take them in.  France too, which is closely linked to several African states must intervene in those countries to provide political and economic support, along with Britain, the USA and other European countries like Belgium.   The Mediterranean should be patrolled round the clock, round the year and a rescue mission provided with a safe haven for those who are rescued.   Several safe havens need to be identified. They need not be all in Europe – in fact, it would be better even for the migrants that they are not, as then they might, in time, be able to return to their native country. 

Foreign policy should be redefined urgently and proper stock taken of serious life-threatening situations.  Children need to be protected above all else.   The reality of population mobilisation has escalated way beyond the problem it already was when it was illegal migration.  The world is in a state of war and poverty is rife.

All of this, as witnessed by the drowning of thousands of desperate souls. 

So, yes, indeed, there should be an emergency meeting and hopefully, some concrete action taken before leaving the table. If necessary, meet all night long until the commitments are tangible. Failing which, maybe the EU inspectors can examine the conditions at the bottom of the seabed. 



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