EU refugee chaos continues to spiral out of control
In defiance of everything the European Union is supposed to stand for, France and Austria have closed their borders with Italy to stop refugees. Let us remember this the next time some drivelling Europhile Remainer talks about the EU being a force for peace
We have all seen the heartrending pictures on television and in the newspapers of refugees arriving, often in terrible condition, on the southern shores of Europe. Italy has received half a million in the last four years, 180,000 of them last year.
Last week 5,000 arrived on a single day, 1,000 of them on a single rescue boat. This year’s influx will certainly be greater than last year’s; it seems there is no end.
Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, has spoken of a crisis ‘of biblical proportions’. But he is underestimating the problem.
They are from all over Africa, Eritrea in the East, Ghana and Nigeria in the West. And of course from the war ravaged Middle East: Iraq and Syria.
They struggle, in rickety vehicles, many on foot, to the coast of politically unstable Libya, a short distance from the Italian islands. Some are refugees; most, 70-80 percent some say, are economic migrants, wanting to work and send money home to their families.
To describe it as a crisis is trite, a well worn understatement that slips off the tongues of politicians and commentators. We are talking about thousands drowning as their unsafe boats capsize. We are talking hundreds of thousands of displaced humans arriving in a place which doesn’t know what to do with them and isn’t getting any help.
In defiance of everything the European Union stands for, France and Austria have closed their borders with Italy. The Austrians, in panic, actually posted troops to the Brenner Pass, for the first time since the Allied armies were racing up the peninsula in the Second World War.
Let us remember this the next time some drivelling Remainer talks about the EU being a force for peace.
The Italians are in a pickle. They are a kindly folk, and have recently been discussing in parliament a jus soli, a law to the effect that you would be Italian if born in Italy. Then the horrifying realisation dawned that an immigrant would only need to give birth in one of the detainment centres for the child to be Italian, entitled to have its parents and siblings with it. Many MPs are backing down.
As recently as last year surveys showed the Italians were around 50/50 about taking in the migrants. Now it is 60/40 against. Polls show a burgeoning right wing, the Northern League in coalition with a supposedly retired politician called Silvio Berlusconi. He may be 80 but he can still leap on to a bandwagon.
Rome is now considering blocking its ports to all but Italian registered shipping, and the reason is shocking. It is believed that boats belonging to European aid agencies are hovering outside Libyan waters. At best, the traffickers know that they need only load enough fuel to get 12 miles. At worst, there is evidence that European NGOs are in touch with the traffickers and wait for them at an agreed point.
What this implies is that the bien pensant European ‘charity’ workers are offering carte blanche to immigrants. Then their countries (most are German and French) are refusing to take them in, so the migrants are dumped in Sicily and Lampedusa.
The UN has described these immigrants as ‘a resource’ and it may well be that they are. Italy, Germany and other countries have birth rates well below population replacement levels and need an influx of people. But nobody is prepared to say they want them. Nobody in Europe is decisive.
A solution might be to sort out Libya and make them register as refugees before departure, but that looks a long way off. Libya is likely to remain lawless and divided for years.
Italy has continually, and perhaps mistakenly, sought a European solution to this crisis. Unfortunately this happy little band of European brothers has as much solidarity as a pirate ship.
The Italians could do worse than copy the French: put all the immigrants in camps in the north and, late at night, quietly unlock the gates.
Tim Hedges, The Commentator's Italy Correspondent, had a career in corporate finance before moving to Rome where he works as a freelancewriter, novelist, and farmer. You can read more of his articles about Italy here
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