How To Solve Europe’s Migrant Crisis, According To Politicians: Let’s Attack Their Boats

Image Credit: Flickr / Vito Manzari

To anyone with an ounce of compassion for the unimaginable suffering of those fleeing war-torn countries for the safe haven of European soil, the idea of sending the military to destroy ships bringing illegal immigrants to the continent is unthinkable. Yet that’s exactly what is being proposed by politicians in Europe, with widespread public support.

Since the beginning of the year, over 18,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean sea. In April alone there were three separate incidents of boats sinking during a crossing to Italy, killing 1300 men, women and children. These statistics are all the more shocking when you figure in that at this time last year, only 200 migrants had lost their lives at sea.

So why are more people than ever before risking their lives to make it to Europe? Politicians talk of ‘economic migrants’ as though money (and welfare) are the primary driving force behind these acts of desperation, but hey avoid dealing with the root of the problem: that our misguided military action in the Middle East has left millions of families with no other option. For them, it’s a case of stay and live a life not worth living, or take the risk of dying on this perilous journey to search for a safe haven. Choosing to undertake the enormous challenge of reaching Europe could never be an easy decision, as many anti-immigration campaigners would have us believe.

The UK in particular isn’t pulling its weight in dealing with this crisis. Offering residency for migrants is a shared responsibility for all European member countries, yet last year Britain – with its comparatively strong economy and low rate of unemployment- only accepted 14,000 asylum seekers, compared with Germany’s re-homing of 47,000.

In order to get to Europe, migrants search for illegal gangs who agree to take them in exchange for dollars, quite often the entire life savings of the refugees. These desperate people are unaware in advance of the danger and the abuse (including beatings and death threats by the people smugglers) they have signed up for. Boats are always severely overcrowded and usually in bad condition. It is the human traffickers that Europe has vowed to wage war on, but they only exist through a process of supply and demand: it is military action in the Middle East that led us to this crisis point, and more of the same will do nothing to stop thousands more Libyans and Syrians from attempting the same crossing.

This Guardian video from October last year documents the terror of Syrian refugees, who filmed their terrifying journey and later spoke about their experiences. How do you think Europe should deal with this enormous challenge? Is there a better way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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