South of England (TFC) – The sea between the coast of Libya and the Italian shores of Lampedusa with their promise of a new life has been called the deadliest waters in the world. Even The Pope has said that the waters are in danger of becoming a ‘vast cemetery.’
In the third disaster involving fleeing migrants this week, search and rescue teams are still at work on the latest catastrophe as a heavily overloaded ship carrying 700 desperate refugees and migrants capsized on Saturday night.
According to the UNCHR spokesperson there were 219,000 Mediterranean crossings in 2014 and 3,500 deaths. 2015 has seen 35,000 crossings so far with 950 deaths reported, the numbers of last night’s catastrophe are not yet included in these figures.
As usual in the UK, we are talking about migrants. Not because of three tragedies at sea, but because we are in the run up to our general election and also because of Katie Hopkins. As usual, vile and needy, Hopkins’s comments in repulsive British newspaper The Sun are caricature bordering on parody, however, they have definitely skimmed the surface of mainstream British sentiment which is a result of the fear mongering happening during vote winning immigration chatter.
Take some of the comments on news websites. These are not attention hungry ‘Z list’ celebs like Hopkins, this is the British public, commenting on a tragedy that has killed up to 700 people.
tomcat6 from Leicester, United Kingdom says: ”I watched the TV reports and most of them looked like healthy males and better dressed them most of our own people….it’s one GIANT scam.”
While ‘Shogun1, London no longer England’ writes: ”What is happening now, shows why UKIPs policies make sense on getting out of the madhouse which is Europe putting our Borders back in place and having real controls, instead of the so called policies we now have of just walk in given a house bring your relatives in, birthrate out of control ,because be of no doubt all those will be told the way to England, the only way to stop it is the Tories with UKIP ,all the others in power is truly terrifying.!!!!!!!!!!”
”700 that aren’t going to arrive here and claim benefits……result!” says ‘Hawkeye1, Welling.’
And, if you haven’t died enough inside;
‘Ivan, Eur done for’ says, ”The Italian govt should put obstacles in the water such as ropes and nets to jam propellers.’
You will notice there is no mention of the twisted British foreign policy helping to create power vacuums and conditions which lead people to flee in the first place and no mention of the differences between economic migrants and asylum seekers. In fact, our empathic commentators even missed the tiny fact that the boat wasn’t even heading for UK shores.
Weekly headlines such as ”Secret report warns of migration meltdown in Britain” together with startling claims by UKIP that Britain needs to build a house every 7 minutes to cope with immigration within the EU, continue to blind the mass media consuming public to the difference between asylum seekers fleeing unimaginable persecution and economic immigrants moving for work or education.
According to the Red Cross, over 50 million people across the world were forced to flee their homes last year and there was a 22 year high in people applying for asylum in developed countries.
What may surprise ‘Ivan no longer England’ is that most of these don’t come to the UK. Many will flee to the nearest country over the border, usually developing countries such as Jordan, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey where they will remain in tents.
If people do take the gamble of heading further afield, often at massive personal risk, they are more likely to end up in other parts of Europe such as Italy, France, Germany and Sweden. Germany received four and a half times the amount of claims for asylum than the UK did in 2013. Since 2002, the number of asylum seekers in the UK has fallen.
The UK in fact hosts around 1% of the world’s refugees who make up 0.24% of our 63.7 million population. Some will have had no idea where they are going and after paying huge sums to traffickers, survive perilous journeys to end up in the UK. Others may have existing family or connections in the country and many are qualified professionals who end up living in deplorable conditions, often used as cheap labour while waiting for their claims to be heard.
The war in Syria has been called the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time and in January 2014 over 10,000 British people told their government that they wanted to see more support given to the Syrian crisis. The UK government finally announced that they would offer a lifeline to the most vulnerable, including survivors of torture, women and children at risk. Over a year later, the UK government has only resettled 143 Syrian refugees.
Last October Britain Foreign Office ministers quietly announced that they would not support future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean. They claimed they simply encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and that there is an unintended ‘pull-factor.’
Rising anti-immigration sentiment has created fertile conditions for mainstream tabloids like The Sun to publish hateful articles like Hopkins penned this week. The constant drip-drip blaming of immigrants for the financial chaos and escalating unemployment means that the UK appears to be building the walls of fortress Britain even higher, even extending this to those fleeing terror, war and persecution, all situations we have helped to create.