Friday, June 15, 2018

Migrant and Refugee Exhaustion in Europe

"Evidently raising  your voice, something Italy did not do for years pays. Victory -- 629 migrants on board the ship Aquarius heading for Spain. First objective [of the new government] achieved."
"Malta is not acting, France rejects them and Europe doesn't care. I've had enough."
"Italy has stopped bowing its head and obeying. This time there is someone who ways no. Enough!"
"Saving lives is a duty, but transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp isn't."
"We will not change [our position] on ships belonging to non-governmental organizations. Ships belonging to foreign organizations and flying foreign flags cannot dictate Italy's immigration policy."
Matteo Salvini, head, League party, Italian interior minister
Französisches Schiff Aquarius im Mittelmeer (picture-alliance/AP Images/S. Cavalli)

Europe is suffocating under the weight of illegal economic migrants and those declaring themselves refugees, flooding across the Mediterranean, forcing countries in the European Union to adhere to the directives they've been given to absorb the impossible numbers who despite dangers at sea and the ongoing loss of life due to smuggling mishaps, continue to try their luck at reaching Europe. And they do this through accessing Greece and Italy, with the intention originally of moving on to more prosperous European nations ready and willing to accept them, like Germany, Austria, Norway and Sweden.

Germany having originally declared its willingness to absorb a million of the migrants finds itself struggling with their accommodation, and facing the fallout of German citizens who declared themselves healed of the erroneous belief that absorption would be painless and the grateful migrants would disport themselves civilly at all times. Social customs and religious dictates have intervened to make their presence, however, less than the perfect fit visualized and crime has risen notably.

Italy's new government is a coalition that includes a party resistant to immigration, valuing their nation's unique and proud traditions and rejecting a huge influx of foreigners bringing with them many undesirable traits and customs, and the threat of religion-based challenges to Italian law and justice and social contracts in dispute with the presence of such large numbers of migrants who evince entitlement, not gratitude for a foreign haven in the storm of their home countries' abject failures.

As one of the first nations faced with an unwanted deluge of haven-seekers and economic migrants Italy has already accepted roughly 700,000 in the last five years, leading the interior minister to declare his resistance to transforming his country into "an enormous refugee camp", as he declared that the NGO-operated ship carrying over 600 new would-be migrants into Italy, would not be permitted to land. Leading France to raise a  hue and cry over Italy's heartlessness. And Spain to offer acceptance for the ship to dock in Valencia.

"It's our duty to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a secure port for these people" avowed Socialist premier of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, taking office a scarce week earlier. Rome has repeatedly informed the European Union parliament that its resources are being stretched to the limit with the number of migrants and refugees it has already been committed to absorbing, appealing for help and for funding. Requests that have largely been ignored. And now that a boatload of 600 has been refused, the rest of the EU rejects Italy's stance.

Yet only several days later the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti with 937 migrants aboard docked at the port of Catania -- the migrants rescued through a number of rescue operations off the coast of Libya. That very episode was cited by Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli as evidence enough that his government was not in the least bit "inhumane or xenophobic", not that Italy has anything to apologize for, much less any explaining to do.

Two men help an exhausted rescued woman on board the Aquarius (DW/F. Warwick)

With no Libyan coastguard in sight, the Aquarius was able to convince the IMRCC and the Libyans to allow them to rescue children, women and families. They evacuated 39 vulnerable people. They had to leave the remaining 80-90 men on the rubber boat to the Libyan coastguard. The Aquarius has the capacity to carry 500 rescued people.

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