No to fortress Europe

Again, after a further nutshell sinking in the Mediterranean yesterday that was filled to the gunwales with people attempting the crossing the Europe, the death toll rises yet further.

The scenes unfolding in the Mediterranean – and on other borders, where affluent, industrialised nations and poorer states meet – are deeply disturbing and totally unacceptable. The cycle that fuels this exodus towards a perceived better life is so depressingly repetitive: civil unrest, war, sexual, religious and/ or political persecution, lack of economic perspective, hunger… the list goes on and on.

Yet somehow, despite the high price in terms of human misery, there always seems to be a group of individuals who profit from this sad state of affairs: the human traffickers organizing the trips across the borders, armed groups extorting money from people who already have nothing – not to forget the reactionary political leaders in the rich nations who use this to argue for a militarization of the borders or to stoke xenophobic tendencies with their simplistic slogans.

Turning parts of the world into fortresses, or gated communities, cannot be the answer.

On the contrary: Closing our eyes to the daily dramas unfolding on our borders or looking away with a sense of aloof superiority (based on what I do not know) are the worst conceivable responses. A strong, solidarical and internationalist response is what is needed, with a genuine will to address issues in the countries where the streams of migrants originate, addressing problems there and creating viable futures for people in their home countries – rather than supporting corrupt potentates merely because they are sitting on barrels of oil! By this I do not mean by offering development aid, as this can lead to a quite patronizing view of the “underdeveloped” nations it seeks to develop – the aim has to be a push towards a world that offers opportunities and justice to all, not just a select few!

Alex Shigo once said that compartmentalization in trees is good, but in humans it is deadly. In that spirit, let’s work towards preventing Europe being turned into a fortress!