My latest column for the New York Times is on the tragedy of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean and the immorality of the EU policy. Here are the opening paragraphs. You can read the full article in the NYT. The image above is by Arianno Vairo from the New York Times.
Up to 1,200 people are believed to have died this past week when, in several incidents, their flimsy boats foundered in the Mediterranean. These migrants from Syria, Mali, Eritrea, Somalia and beyond had set out from North Africa hoping to reach Europe’s southern shores. Fleeing war and poverty, most had paid large sums to traffickers.
The scale of the tragedies is shocking but no novelty. It is estimated that since 1993 some 20,000 migrants have died trying to cross Europe’s southern borders. The true figure is undoubtedly higher: Thousands have perished, their deaths unrecorded.
Who is to blame? European politicians point the finger at traffickers. On Monday, European Union officials came up with a 10-point plan, including military action against smuggling networks.
The traffickers are certainly odious figures, recklessly placing migrants in peril. But what pushes migrants into the hands of traffickers are the European Union’s own policies. The bloc’s approach to immigration has been to treat it as a matter not of human need, but of criminality. It has developed a three-pronged strategy of militarizing border controls, criminalizing migration and outsourcing controls.
For more than three decades, the European Union has been constructing what critics justly call ‘Fortress Europe’, a cordon protected by sea, air and land patrols, and a high-tech surveillance system of satellites and drones. When a journalist from Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine visited the control room of Frontex, the European border agency, he observed that the language used was that of ‘defending Europe against an enemy’.
Read the full article in the New York Times.