European Union leaders were shocked. The death of 12 journalists, who were murdered by terrorists (Charlie Hebdo attacks on Jan 2015), brought those leaders on to the streets of Paris to show their solidarity and their regards for freedom of speech. The attack on the French satirical magazine is condemnable and the huge outpouring of public emotion displayed how humanity triumphs over such extreme activities. However, a real humanitarian would be irked by the behavior of the EU leaders and their globe-trotting media, which treats the recent deaths of migrants on the Mediterranean as just another ‘tragedy’ that must be stopped.
Of course the EU leaders have issued statement saying how they are shocked at the loss of lives in deep waters of Mediterranean, but their shock comes from the number of lives died at sea – at least 700. Such large number brings anxiety to EU leaders since they have to now sit around and confront this large scale problem, which they have chosen to ignore for years. On Saturday (April 18th) night, an over-crowded carrying at least 950 people drowned off the coast of Libya. This tragic incident brings the migrant death toll in Mediterranean Sea to 1600 (for 2015). 35,000 people this year have crossed into Europe, while 13,500 people were rescued before reaching their destination. Last year, the death amounted to 3,500, while 218,000 successfully crossed.
Many including the Catholic Church & Pope Francis called the shipwreck a ‘humanitarian crisis’, a xenophobic undercurrent clouds the debate, and makes it hard to find any robust resolutions. A Columnist from UK called the migrants as ‘cockroaches’ and suggested that the Mediterranean sea should be patrolled with European gunships. The legal & illegal immigration into Europe has also given birth to anti-immigration political parties across Europe. Neo-fascist ‘Golden Dawn Party’ was born in Greece. The present UK government fears the Independence party, which is campaigning against migration. Arson attacks on the residing places of asylum seekers is said to have increased in Germany.
Even in Sweden, whose way of liberal politics serves as role model for other countries, an anti-immigration party – Sweden Democrats (has neo-Nazi roots) consumed 13 percent of vote in the country’s last general election, and poised to gain more support. France’s National Front Party — another anti-immigration party – topped the polls in elections to the European Parliament last year. Italy bears the brunt of this migrant problem as it receives 70 percent of all the asylum applications. The overthrowing of Gadaffi’s regime and ensued unstable government in Libya has created a perfect earning environment for people traffickers. The Italian government talks about a possible military intervention in Libya, but political analysts states that Libya is merely an endpoint of this crisis.
A large percent of people is said to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Italy from other war-torn and famine-inflicted countries like Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, Eritrea, and Yemen. Italy’s persistent determination to close down the Libyan route may only displace the crisis to some other port or country. The burden-sharing is considered as a valid option for the ever-growing migration. Traditional hospitable European countries like German & Sweden have taken thousands, while even the British have taken in hundreds through formal programmes. But, the governments in these countries are finding it hard to keep their own populace from turning against the legal & illegal migrants. The death of 900 people might once again raise the calls for equitable distribution of refugees across the EU. But, the politicians of the 28 European nations still couldn’t decide on the number for ‘equitable distribution’ or ‘fair share’.
Even if the migrants are shared equally, nothing could stop the migrants from entering into Germany, France or UK by other illegal means. Majority of the European nations suggest a unified force of naval ships to turn back the migrant vessels, but turning back those ships, populated by hundreds of people may only result in more chaos & deaths. There’s also lot of arrests of the people traffickers. The arrests is said to have reached more than thousand in last year alone, but the boats keep coming.
In the absence of a long term humane vision, this European migrant issue could rapidly turn in into a more frightening issue with the involvement of military. May be the real solution to stop the inflow of immigrants would be to solve the rampant poverty issue in sub- Saharan African countries. But, the xenophobic political leaders & the corporate media want to forget the fact that there are people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.