‘West must give billions in aid to countries decimated by its foreign policy’
EU leaders held an emergency summit on Thursday, looking for ways to tackle the crisis.
RT:Just before the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk said “the best way to protect people from drowning is by ensuring that they do not get on the boats in the first place.” How can the EU prevent people from getting on the boats?
Chris Nineham: We haven’t heard the full details of what the summit is saying but it seems to me that unfortunately we see the continuation of the policy that has been conducted so far which is a military and a police attempt to physically stop the migrants and the people smugglers from getting across the Mediterranean. This seems to me to be completely wrongheaded; this seems to me to be a shameful policy. What needs to happen - there needs to be a massive stepping up of the search and rescue operation on the one hand, and an emergency plan to find ways of resettling these tens of thousands of migrants in safety inside Europe. Those things don’t even seem to be being considered.
RT:Chaos and conflict in Libya is widely blamed for the surge in human trafficking. Is it possible to tackle this problem, while there's no functioning government in that country?
CN: First of all the immediate desperate, almost unimaginable crisis needs to be addressed, and there needs to be a swift emergency humanitarian response, and not this kind of war on the migrants that is so far all that we are getting from the EU. Then we can move on and talk about the push factors, as people call them, which is the real issue here. And when we do, we have to recognize that the reason these people are fleeing is largely because the Western counties have been involved in causing mayhem in Libya, in Syria where many of the refugees are coming from, Afghanistan, other areas of the Middle East. These countries are war-torn because of the last 15 years of war that has been conducted by the Western powers, the so-called war on terror. We need to end that policy, we need to recognize that the west is largely responsible for this desperate catastrophe, and we need to pump millions and millions of pounds of aid, billions of pounds of emergency aid into these countries.
RT:But is this likely to happen?
CN: If it doesn’t happen, the carnage is simply going to continue. People need to get real here. At the moment the only foreign policy that the EU seems to be able to imagine or consider is a military response. This has to change; this has to change immediately because we are talking about the potential death of tens of thousands of people in the next weeks and months. It has to end and that means a complete reversal of the kind of foreign policy that the West has been conducting over the last years. We need to recognize ... that the reason why this migrant problem has emerged, these people are in desperation and leaving not just their countries but their continents - is because the carnage has been created by Western foreign policy.
Libya was destroyed, it was tipped into a cycle of violence and chaos by the 2011 attack by the Western countries led, I should say, by Britain and France. That is why the country is falling apart...
RT:Not all the EU leaders agree with you. For example, Italy has called for a military response against human traffickers. Seems that French President Francois Hollande is the only one who voiced some regrets saying the EU should “fix yesterday's mistakes.” What steps could the EU take to do that is we see that there is no unity in positions regarding this issue?
CN: They have to take these steps and they have to take them fast. They have to respond to the immediate problem by reinstating the search and rescue operation that was abandoned last year because it was regarded as too extravagant. Even though the cost of Operation Mare Nostrum [OMN] was a tiny fraction of the cost of the bombing of Libya which took place in 2011- it was €9 million a month they were spending which is an absolute pittance compared to the amount of money they spent on bombing Libya. So they need to reinstate that, they need to make a commitment to resettle all the refugees who get over to Europe immediately as a basic humanitarian gesture, and then they need to get onto the problem of providing the resources and the funds to countries that have been decimated by Western foreign policy over the last 10-15 years. That would cost again a fraction of the amount of money that was spent on occupying Afghanistan, bombing Iraq; the amount of money that is pumped into Israel to ensure that they clamp down and repress the Palestinian people. This militarized aggressive foreign policy cost billions and billions of pounds for all these countries, particularly for Britain… and the other EU countries. We could spend half of that on humanitarian aid. We might be moving towards some sort of a resolution.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.