Addis Ethiopia Weblog

Ethiopia's World

  • Sweet Orange

  • October 2013
    M T W T F S S
    « Sep   Nov »
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

Mediterranean Tragedy: A Crime Against Humanity

Posted by addisethiopia on October 11, 2013

As for those who have tried to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean, it is estimated that at least 20,000 people have died since 1990.

SadnessAngerMy note: 77 years ago, Italy invaded Ethiopia with all sorts of fascist brutality. The Italian aircraft then resorted to an internationally banned mustard gas against civilian Ethiopians and thousands of women and children were gassed to death.

Almost hundred years later, we witness thousands of Eritrean refugees die trying to reach Europe. In April of 2011 the overloaded boat bound for Lampedusa sank with the loss of at least 130 dead  and 250  missing. Last week, 500 Eritreans boarded a heavily laden old fishing boat bound for Europe. More than 270 refugees drowned off the coast of Italy. Their bodies fished from the water were stored in coffins. Yes, the coffins were in a much better condition than the purposely designed and provided rotten boats.

The loss of life at the Mediterranean sea is a matter for regret and concern. For so many unfortunate souls to perish in such a way is a great shock and a genuine tragedy. My deep sympathy and sincere condolences to our Eritrean brothers and sisters who have lost family, friends or loved ones in this horrible incidence. Sadly, this is only the latest such tragedy.

It may sound strange but, in many ways, Europe and Europeans need Africa /Africans more than Africans do need them. It won’t wait too long before desperate Europeans illegally cross their southern borders into Africa. Even today, there are way more Europeans living in Africa than Africans in Europe. While people of European origin are allowed to live in a rather free, tolerant, prestigious and prosperous African environment, many Africans who are well educated or are even college graduates with invitations from foreign universities are forced to face up to life as second-class citizens.

Africa and Africans always get a bad rap in the Western media. The European media often writes about blacks in the context of crime and drug deals. But most Africans in Europe don’t have anything to do with crime. Instead, they make up a new social class which is exploited by the ruthless economic system.

In Europe, while most of the immigrants originate from countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, it’s “the invasion” of  those“ Savage, Subhuman,, ‘Sub-Saharan’ Africans.’  which is often highlighted in the European media. Of course, in their minds, Africa is a country – meaning black Africa. Certainly, there are some truly concerned, kind and angel-like people in Europe, however, it remains a riddle to me why, in the year , the vast majority of Europeans still hates, demonizes, fears and looks down on blacks. Why do so many still live in denial, refuse to put the time and resources into figuring out to civilize and transform themselves? It is taking time and resources, because we’re dealing with a chronic system of white supremacy that will seek to minimize, deny, divert and violently uphold itself – a failed attempt to be at peace with themselves. Time is running out!

Europe’s refugee policy alone is to blame for the Lampedusa tragedy, the daily Delo writes: “The EU has brutally tightened controls on its southern borders and begun to deliberately ignore people drowning in the Mediterranean. In countries like Italy laws were passed that made it a crime to save a refugee. … Brussels adopted the Dublin II agreement and elegantly extricated itself from responsibility: according to the agreement’s provisions all refugees without the correct documents must be returned to the country where they entered the EU. In most cases that’s Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta. … The Lampedusa tragedy is the logical consequence of a European refugees policy that matches the definition of a crime against humanity. Europe has drowned 350 unlucky souls.

Italian prosecutors launched investigations against the survivors of the Lampedusa refugee tragedy last week. The 155 Africans are accused of illegal immigration. In some parts of Europe the asylum laws do not comply with international human rights standards, commentators write, and call for uniform EU legislation.

The Lampedusa Boat Sinking Was No Accident

LampedusaAfricaThe last thing you can call these tragedies are fatal accidents.

The umpteenth tragedy involving African migrants off the tiny island of Lampedusa could and should have been prevented, like the countless other deaths that have occurred over the last years in those waters.

Nearly 20,000 people have died since 1988 along southern European borders, making the Mediterranean a true graveyard for migrants.

Pope Francis talked about “shame”, but he didn’t say who should be ashamed, who’s to blame for this. Can we say it is just the traffickers?

By coincidence, this week the UN is holding a high-level dialogue on international migration and development, in New York.

The slogan of the meeting is “making migration work” but that sounds like a rather dull wishful thinking, because each death, across each border, from Europe to the US to Australia, shows that the current migration and asylum policies do not work at all.

The international community should admit the inadequacy of what is a unilateral, temporary and often repressive approach to mobility.

The migration question has certainly not been resolved by national governments militarising borders further or criminalizing undocumented immigrants.

Such policies have been particularly harsh in Italy, where right-wing politicians have built their identity and electoral success on fear of foreigners.

In 2009 the Berlusconi administration, with xenophobic allies from the Northern League, started a policy of push-backs of people in need of protection, a measure condemned by the UN and by the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

That government went on signing agreements with Muammar Gaddafi to prevent African migrants fleeing Libya, well aware of the inhuman conditions suffered by Africans in Libyan detention centers.

In 2008 the so-called “security package” law turned undocumented migrants into criminals as well as their traffickers.

Apparently all those measures have ended up encouraging trafficking by criminal organizations, while discouraging open water rescue for fishermen, who fear being accused of aiding and abetting.

Three years on, those regulations are still in force, despite the fact that two governments have followed.

Migration laws are still based on a closed-off borders policy that makes legal entry almost impossible,” says Lorenzo Trucco, president of Asgi, the Italian lawyers’ advocacy group for migrants’ rights.

Yet the current deputy prime minister, Angelino Alfano, a likely ideological successor to Berlusconi, headed to Lampedusa and hypocritically announced a national day of mourning.

He did not dare question Italy’s immigration law and tried to shift the blame on Europe’s failing asylum system.

Northern League politicians, now in opposition, shamelessly accused two leading migrants’ rights advocates of encouraging illegal entry. However, anti-immigrant Italian politicians are not the only ones at fault.

Cecilia Malmström, European commissioner for home affairs, has vowed Europe will step up its effort to prevent these tragedies and took the opportunity to promote the Eurosur project and its “smart borders” policy. The €340m project aims to track and identify small vessels at sea, but actually the whole idea is based on the “externalisation” of the borders, with some hi-tech smart tools and further patrolling by the European border agency Frontex.

It remains to be seen in what ways these projects are different from the one Malmström started with Gaddafi in 2010.

That allocated €50m to ensure greater control of the southern border of Libya in the desert, out of sight of Europe.

So why do Eurocrats keep investing in security measures? Why don’t they focus on a shared asylum policy, on serious multilateral agreements between transit and receiving countries, on building search-and-rescue capacity in the Mediterranean, on the full respect of the right to international protection?

Europe cannot go on sealing its borders and pretending not to see what’s going on in the south, especially in still-troubled Northern Africa, and in a continent with growing poverty, along with a food and health crisis.

Increasing social conflicts inevitably result in harsher repression by authoritarian regimes and therefore in further asylum-seekers, just like the Eritrean young men and women who drowned in Lampedusa.

Source

Relevant readings:

The immigrant war

The immigrant war is the war against immigrants. In this short survey the Italian journalist Vittorio Longhi describes four migration routes; to the Gulf States from Nepal, India, and many other countries in south Asia; to the United States from Central and South America; to France and to Italy from north Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere; and the systematic ill-treatment that host governments and societies mete out to the migrants on which their economies depend.

__

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: