Crazy, but it just might work: Mediterranean bridge proposed to save refugee lives
More than 3,770 men, women, and children died last year trying to cross the open waters in search of a better life; free from violence, poverty and persecution.
The death toll is a tragic increase on 2014, when 500 less people perished in the attempt.
In a monumental display of humanity, the Center of Political Beauty is proposing to build a stone bridge from Africa to Europe in a bid to “stop the futile dying in the Mediterranean.”
According to the political performance artists, who claim to use “humanity as a weapon,” the 230 kilometer overpass would stretch from the Tunisian coastal town of al-Huwariyah to Agrigento in Sicily.
“The bridge will serve as a lifeline between two continents and will be the most efficient tool against people smuggling,” the group say.
The plan has been submitted to the European Union’s Internal Security Fund. If given a green light for funding, the Center of Political Beauty hope work on the bridge can start in spring of 2017.
The expected completion date for the ambitious safeway, which has an estimated price tag of €230 billion, is 2030.
Perhaps to shame countries that have erected fences and closed borders to refugees, the bridge would be named after the founding father of the European Union, Jean Monnet.
Austria’s refugee coordinatorm Christian Konrad, along with construction company Strabag, is backing the unusual project. He explains the motives for building the structure in a video entitled ‘The Bridge.’
Not content with waiting for the bridge to be approved, the humanitarian collective has launched an emergency rescue platform in the Mediterranean, where people on sinking rafts can seek refuge.
“Mankind cannot wait until the completion of the Jean-Monnet-Bridge: in order to effectively combat the silent dying in the Mediterranean, 1,000 rescue platforms will be erected as soon as possible,” a statement reads.
At the very least, the idea is raising awareness, and there are plans afoot to install more advanced platforms at a cost of €50,000 each.
The floating islands have been dubbed Aylan 1, after Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose body was pictured washed up on a Turkish beach last summer.
The 6x6 meter plastic platforms will be financed as part of a crowdfunding campaign, which is also intended to help pay for the bridge. They will be equipped with “navigation lights, food reserves, an emergency call device, photovoltaic modules, a flagpole, life belts, a camera and two anchors.”
Speaking to Al-Jazeera, founder of the Center for Political Beauty Phillip Ruch admitted the ideas were unconventional, but suggested they were no crazier than Europe’s inaction.
“European countries do not have the political will to give refugees the same rights as we have – for example, enable them to buy a normal flight ticket. Consequently, these people are forced to cross the Mediterranean and risk their lives,” he said.
“If the policy is crazy, why can’t we be crazy as well?"