Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Human Lives - Just Flotsam and Jetsam

The SOYMB bloggers are not christians, or of any other religion, but we can identify with those who may be and who recognise the hypocrisy of supposed fellow followers of christian values.

The Church of England  Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has warned:
“... at the heart of Christian teaching about the human being is that all human beings are of absolutely equal and infinite value and the language we use must reflect the value of the human being and not treat immigration as a deep menace that is somehow going to overwhelm a country that has coped with many waves of immigration and has usually done so with enormous success....We have 9,000 clergy working in 16,000 parishes, living in these parishes. We have better reports from the grassroots than almost anyone. What we are seeing is an upsurge of minor racist, antisemitic, anti-Islamic, anti-foreigner xenophobia – not major things – just comments being made, things being said which are for the people who grew up in those backgrounds seriously uncomfortable, really quite frightening.”

Last year a wealthy couple called Regina and Christopher Catrambone saw a life-jacket float past their yacht, the owner was probably dead, one of thousands of desperate people who drown each year as they seek a decent life in Europe. Soon after their holiday, inspired by this glimpse of tragedy and Pope Francis’s appeal to help migrants, the pair spent £3m on a rescue ship for refugees. This couple from Malta are modern-day Good Samaritans. Their 40-metre vessel is equipped with a sick bay, drones to spot migrants adrift in the sea, and fast boats to pluck them from the waters. On its first trip two months ago, the ship picked up 227 migrants crammed on to a floundering fishing boat – just a few of those thousands of human beings fleeing carnage in Syria, chaos in Iraq, civil war in Libya, conflict in Nigeria and cruel repression in the horn of Africa. Another 300 were saved on Monday.

Contrast this display of Christian values with the position of the UK government. In response to the greatest refugee crisis in more than half a century, a foreign office minister Lady Anelay  told the House of Lords that Britain would not support European search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean sea and justified this act of inhumanity on the spurious grounds that such missions might end up encouraging migrants to make a dangerous sea crossing.

 Italy’s Admiral Filippo Foffi categorically dismissed the idea that Mare Nostrum has created a pull factor: “If someone is talking about pull factors, he [or she] simply doesn’t know what he is speaking about,” he said, adding that that many refugees’ journeys start more than three months before they make it to the shores of Libya and northern Africa with the majority enduring hardships that meant an estimated half die before reaching the coast. Her argument was also refuted by Daniel Habtey, an Eritrean pastor who fled Africa’s most repressive country after churches were closed and he was put in a prison camp. These were the hostile actions that drove him to flee his nation with his wife and infant child; together, they spent 15 days crossing the Sahara desert before joining nearly 80 others on that perilous Mediterranean crossing. Similar horrors lie behind the stories of many of the 400 migrants pulled from the waters each day, or the more than 2,500 known to have drowned there so far this year. Many more deaths go unrecorded.

There is a terrible irony in how recent British governments have made such play of being forces for good in the world, whether through military invasions, described as humanitarian interventions, against despotism or or maintaining dictators through ‘aid’ budgets, but the same politicians treat human beings fleeing dire circumstances in search of tolerable lives like flotsam and jetsam to be discarded in the seas.

This is the consequence of mainstream parties spooked by UKIP joining a bidding war to be most hostile to migrants instead of challenging the prejudices of a party playing on people’s insecurities. This is the result of crass talk by politicians , both Tory and Labour, of communities being “swamped” along with the rise in racism and religious bigotry identified by  the Archbishop of Canterbury.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

Last week, the Spanish government ratified a law allowing the country’s police to deport immigrants who try to cross into the Spanish territory illegally. Under the new law, the asylum requests of illegal immigrants will not be considered by Madrid.

The cities of Ceuta and Melilla are located near the Spanish border with the African country of Morocco, the only land borders between Europe and Africa.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “is concerned over a proposal by Spain to legalize automatic returns of people trying to cross border fences into its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said.

According to Spindler, more than two thirds of the immigrants and asylum seekers are escaping prosecution and war in their homelands, including the violence-stricken countries of Mali, the Central African Republic and Syria. "So far this year, over 5,000 people have arrived, including 2,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria, of whom 70 percent are women and children," Spindler said.