Strangers at the gates

Festung Europa must open its gates and end this inhumane policy on immigration.

The human cost of emmigration to Europe. Map from 2006/2007

Each year tens of thousands of people risk their lives to enter Europe by sea from Africa. They are on the move for a myriad of causes. Poverty, war and natural disasters are some of the main push effects making people pack up and leave. Sadly the European nation’s attitude towards these immigrants and refugees has not been good. Despite evidence of how many actually die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, action is nowhere to be seen.

Recently two separate boats containing hundreds of illegal immigrants sank and many of the passengers drowned, causing an outrage in many European countries. The Maltese Prime minister said the sea had now become a giant cemetery, the coastguard constantly collecting more bodies.

Emmigration routes from Africa to Western Europe. Source: BBC
According to Italian charities, more than 6,450 people have died trying to cross the sea from Libya to Malta or Italy since 1994. It might just be the tip of an iceberg.

Globalisation and the movement of people across the planet are causing tricky questions for European nations and the US. The free movement of people, goods, services and money these countries usually promotes also makes more people from poorer countries want to move in hope of a better life. Effects of the high living standards and foreign policy are also important factors. Our consumer society fuels global warming, pollution and labour exploitation. More often than not, poorer countries must foot the bill for our excess.

At the same time as more people wants to cross our borders, anti-immigration parties and rhetoric is on the rise across Europe. In an increasingly hostile climate, the case for human rights and basic dignity seems harder to make and more important for every day that passes.

European countries must work together on building a system of humane treatment and integration for the thousands of people coming our way. Italy, Spain, Malta and Greece must not be left alone to handle a problem that affects all of us. There must be legal and safe ways for emigrant’s and refugees to cross the iron curtain that is the Mediterranean Sea, smugglers and profiteers must be put out of business.

It will cost money and it will demand a serious effort, but it is absolutely possible.

Reasons why people flee must also be handled. Social and economic justice must be spread across the globe, and wars must end. It might sound like a utopian Christmas list, but some of us refuse to abandon our belief that a better world is possible.


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