Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The dead tell no tales

They know their lives are at risk, yet each year thousands of people from Africa, the Middle East and beyond — war refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants — leave their homes and try to reach the promised land of Europe. The plight of migrants only grabs the media spotlight intermittently, usually when a disaster involving death in large numbers drag the story into the public eye, although in fact it is a story that never ends. While more than two million Syrian refugees have entered neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, only 60,000 found official refuge in the EU, mainly in Sweden and Germany, since the start of the civil war three years ago. But many Syrians try their luck through unofficial and dangerous ways to get into Europe.

A tide of humanity — people on the run from Africa, the Middle East and Asia — is washing over Europe’s boundaries, and many don’t survive the journey. No EU Member State or EU institution has data on migrants death.  The inevitable deaths are ongoing regardless of the attention or inattention they receive.  For some EU member states, dead migrants “aren’t migrating anymore, so why care?”, in the words of a public official.

Some tragic disasters, and the bursts of heart-rending from politicians and officials that follow, highlight the conflict at the heart of Europe's asylum and migration policies: on the one hand, the authorities acknowledge the humanitarian imperative of saving lives at Europe’s borders while at the same time they vigorously apply politically driven policies that restrict migration. In the end, the dynamics that put so many lives at risk remain unaltered - Fortress Europe’s barriers remain and are in fact strengthened. Frontex is the European Union’s border security coordination system.

The Migrant Files, an investigative journalism project, found that since the year 2000 around 23,000 immigrants died attempting to reach Fortress Europe. The findings of the journalists imply that on an average, four to five persons die daily while escaping war, lack of security and poverty. When it comes to talking of “lives saved” and security of migrations, politician and border guards engage in shameless lies and whitewashing of their activities and programs, renaming surveillance and push-back activity into search and rescue operations.

From here

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