Europe has money for wars but not to rescue drowning migrants

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
Europe has money for wars but not to rescue drowning migrants
A rally has taken place in London in response to Britain’s decision to end its support for search and rescue operations to prevent migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, which as far as right-wing sentiment goes, makes Enoch Powell look like a lame duck.

The Home Officeannouncementto end its participation in the operation caused outrage and concern among human rights groups, refugee, and migrant experts.

Italy ran the Mare Nostrum search and rescue team and announced its decision to end the operation which worked in international waters. A joint EU group named “Triton” led by the Frontex EU border force will replace it, but will only patrol within 30 miles of the Italian coastline.

A recent UNHC report said that more than 100,000 people have been saved by the operation which has now been scrapped. Since the decision was made to end the operation, more lives have been lost. In the last 12 months, there are hundreds of known cases of people drowning attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

The move to ditch Mare Nostrum has been backed by other countries, reflects the wider political shift to the right in Europe, ultimately centered on blaming immigrants for the economic calamity we find ourselves facing.

The failure to tax the rich, and taxpayer funded bank bailouts, leading to widespread austerity implemented at the behest of corrupt technocrats, are apparently not the causes of the current economic downturn. No, according to European heads of state, it is rather the fault of those trying to reach our shores - migrants and refugees who simply want to live and be safe.

The move targets and affects those people often fleeing war-torn and famine stricken countries, heading to Europe from North Africa.

And according to the government, and its lapdog Nick Clegg, the knowledge that there will no longer be a rescue operation in place, for migrants in danger of drowning, will apparently act as a deterrent against those who would consider attempting such a journey in the first place. I'm not making it up.

The thinking goes, that if people know that there are no rescue boats to save them, and they won't risk travelling across the ocean in search of a better life. Yes, when people migrate, it has nothing to do with the conditions in the country of origin, but everything to do with the fact that there's a chance, however slim, that someone might rescue you, should you find yourself in trouble. Knowing that a robust search and rescue team exists, is always a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to uproot your family in the midst of a war or famine, and brave the ocean in a raft in the hope that if you don't die, you'll at least live to become refugees. It all seems perfectly logical, and certainly captures and fits with the Conservative government's general ethos of making things hard on vulnerable people.

In a nutshell, the “logic” and reasoning the government has adopted to justify the move of cutting search and rescue operations falls in line with the rest of Europe.

The reality and blatant disregard for human life by the Home Office's decision reads like political satire, only it isn't satire, it’s actually happening.

Tens of thousands we rescued at sea last year, of the ones located in distress and rescued that is. Now, that safety net is gone, and it’s already had consequences. It doesn't make sense. It's like refusing people treatment for heart disease, in the hope they'll try to not get it in the first place.

People seeking security and safety is not something new. This is not a phenomenon exclusive to 2014. Governments are focusing on this for a reason. The idea that bureaucrats in Europe could ever stop migrants by cutting the number of rescue boats makes no sense. And it shouldn't do as it is a political move which is all about votes and power. That's why it is immoral.

This issue of immigration is being blown up, globally, and within the UK, is underscored by the rise of UKIP, we see that the UK general election next May will be fought around immigration. That's the battleground. It’s likely we'll see even more of this vitriol than we have seen already. Expect more casualties as a result of this shameless need that politicians seem to have to play to the right, joining in with the anti-immigrant, anti-migrant, and anti-refugee sentiment.

Either the government is sublimely ignorant, or this is plain and simply a highly cynical and cold political calculation, one undertaken to reign in support from anti-immigration voters. The government in Britain wants to align itself with like minds in Europe.

European states treating the lives of migrants and refugees with such contempt is disgraceful and shameful especially since many of those migrants come from countries which were occupied and colonized by European nations, and are simply following the trail of economic wealth looted from those lands back to the countries that looted them.

EU leaders are turning their backs on those coming to seek refuge from countries often being decimated and run down at the hands of those same European powers. Should we even be surprised?

We have unlimited money to go and fund wars for profit, but we cannot afford to save drowning people, whose problems are so bad, that they would rather try their luck with human traffickers and a small boat than remain where they are. The government's decision is cowardly and callous and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms and reversed.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.