Europe must welcome migrants condemned to death by xenophobia

Europe must welcome migrants condemned to death by xenophobia

Four years after the Aquarius was blocked, the government of Giorgia Meloni is once again challenging Europe by refusing to disembark nearly 1,000 Mediterranean survivors in Italian ports, Antoine Laurent criticizes in an exclusive column for EURACTIV France.

Antoine Laurent is a lifeguard. Between 2016 and 2018 he was responsible in particular for the maritime operations of the rescue ship Aquarius in the Mediterranean. He is the author of “Logbook of the Aquarius, in the skin of a marine rescuer” (Kero, 2021).

History repeats itself. The refusal of solidarity is repeated. The paralysis of Europe reappears.

On June 11, 2018, after months of the gradual withdrawal of lifesaving appliances at sea, Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s far-right party La Ligue (Law), newly appointed interior minister, closed Italian ports to the Aquarius and her 629 survivors of Libyan hell. Other humanitarian boats, cargo ships and military ships will suffer the same fate, being forced to wait days and weeks without a landing solution.

Not surprisingly, Giorgia Meloni’s new government is challenging Europe again by refusing disembarkation at its ports, immediately aggravating a humanitarian crisis that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of women, children and men who are forced to to flee from insecurity.

NGOs are calling for help, may France respond benevolently. It is his duty. His story.

The political context has changed, but the humanistic values ​​that are at the heart of our European democracies remain unshakable: letting people die in distress at sea remains deeply cowardly and immoral. Nothing can justify abandoning them, not even the hatred that today’s preachers of supremacy unscrupulously sow.

The Euro-Mediterranean states must meet their humanitarian responsibilities by coordinating search and rescue operations off Libya and Tunisia. They must guarantee the disembarkation of the survivors in safe ports and ensure good cooperation of all the means available in these areas, including humanitarian ones.

The withholding of information that has prevailed for several years, the violation of the law of the sea and the systematic refusal of exiles must be stopped. Too many lives have already paid the price for the cynical pragmatism that guides European governments.

The other states of the old continent must show their open solidarity in the reception and integration of the survivors in a coordinated and fair manner. Whether they are entitled to asylum, whether they are victims of climate change, poverty, political oppression, economic plunder, armed conflict, or even desperation, we have a moral duty to provide them with a sanctuary, a peaceful future, and a life fit for purpose worthy is what they are: our fellow human beings. Instead of condemning them from behind the horizon.

Slavery, gang rape, extortion, torture, murder, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances: the cycle of terror that has raged in Libya for too many years is incredibly violent; the proven complicity of the European Union in this crime against humanity is despicable.

Stop funding detention centers where human rights are being crushed. Stop the support of the Libyan Coast Guard, as foreseen in the agreement renewed a few days ago, which has nothing to do with a rescue organization at sea, and stop the militarization of the desert, which diverts migratory routes to the detriment of criminal networks and regional economic development .

deterrence through physical and psychological violence, precariousness and border control; criminalization of nurses; Demonizing foreigners and their cultures: French and European migration policies pursue a sterile strategy as they try to respond to this problem according to the reading frame produced by the extreme right, allergic to any form of otherness and fantasizing of a return of empire .

The state xenophobia now prevailing in Italy obliges Europe. So let us urgently put humanism back at the center of our aid, reception and integration policies. The spirit of solidarity that reigns throughout the territory is strong. It can save lives some say are lost in advance. All they need is political recognition and the means to honor our humanity.


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