The Mediterranean is becoming the new Dead Sea. Dead, not because of a lack of fish, but because of an abundance of human corpses. Hundreds of refugees from the Middle East and Africa try to cross into western Europe every day on unseaworthy traffickers' boats and many of them drown: 1500 so far this year.
One irony of not being able to swim is that, if you drown, your body decomposes and gases inflate your stomach. This then makes you lighter than water. So, after failing to stay afloat alive after many hours in the cold sea, you end up being able to float, dead, and coloured a little more grey and blue than a European beach tourism brochure would want to have on its front page.
Italy and Malta have raised the alarm about refugees crossing the Mediterranean, and this week European ministers will decide what to do about it. But they have a problem, since European politics is at the centre of the trouble. The UK and France promoted the intervention in Libya to unseat Gaddafi; France has screwed up its colonies in Tunisia, Mali and Chad; Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have been on the receiving end of many powers' interests; Syria has been undermined by the western powers, while Israel, a key force of instability in the Middle East, is persistently backed by the Europeans as well as by the US, something adding to the Palestinian contingent among the refugees.
The political trouble for Europe is exacerbated by a chronic economic crisis that means it is even harder to maintain the veneer of supporting 'human rights' and all the other verbiage. So, their policy will probably target the symptoms, ie the traffickers. The cause, their role in the oppression of the Middle East and Africa, will obviously not be considered.
Tony Norfield, 22 April 2015