Desperate refugees and migrants are still drowning in the Mediterranean – we need a compassionate approach

Editorial: Western bureaucracies often treat asylum seekers brutally and inhumanely, as the recent scandals about poor accommodation in dilapidated British ex-army barracks show

Sunday 04 July 2021 09:57
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<p>Migrants aboard the rescue vessel MV Aquarius off the coast of Libya in 2018, where they were stranded for two days while Italy and the UK argued over their fate</p>

Migrants aboard the rescue vessel MV Aquarius off the coast of Libya in 2018, where they were stranded for two days while Italy and the UK argued over their fate

The 43 (or more) people who drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Tunisia are, sadly, not the first refugees and migrants to drown in the Mediterranean on their journey to what they hope is a better life; and nor, realistically, will they be the last.

The calmer weather, the continuing activities of the people traffickers and the instability, war and poverty that afflicts so much of Africa and the Middle East will ensure that many more deaths and injuries will follow.

The imminent withdrawal of American and allied forces from Afghanistan and the arrival of Islamic State in the region around northeastern Nigeria will only add to the “push factors” that have been driving people from their homes. Like the waves of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, Libya and Eritrea, and elsewhere, before war and torture and persecution arrived they had little wish to turn up, penniless but hopeful, in Europe.

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