Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An exercise in pointless cruelty

Over the past few years, the European Union has increasingly adopted Australian anti-refugee tactics, intercepting and "pushing back" refugee boats in an effort to avoid their obligations under the Refugee Convention. But according to a report from the UK House of Lords, these operations have simply increased the number of refugees dying at sea:

The tactics used by the European Union’s naval mission – in which Britain plays a leading role – to tackle people-smuggling in the Mediterranean have resulted in more deaths at sea of refugees and migrants, a cross-party House of Lords inquiry has concluded.

The peers say an unintended consequence of Operation Sophia’s policy of destroying smugglers’ boats has been that they have adapted and sent refugees and migrants to sea in unseaworthy vessels, leading to more deaths.

The number of recorded casualties on the central Mediterranean route – between Libya and Italy – rose by 42% to more than 4,500 people drowning in 2016 compared with 3,175 in 2015. So far in 2017 there have been 2,150 deaths.

The report by the Lords’ EU external affairs sub-committee says the bloc’s naval operation has failed in its mission to disrupt the business of people-smuggling in the central Mediterranean and its mandate should not be renewed. The initiative has had little impact on the flow of irregular migrants, which reached its highest level yet in 2016 with 181,436 arriving in Europe by this route.

I hope the EU will take that advice. Sadly, I expect Europe's racist politicians will simply double down on the cruelty. I guess the good news about Brexit is that the UK won't be being their thugs anymore.