Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Migrants in the Port of Gallipoli

The news recently has contained reports from two distressed ships in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The burning one, and the one containing refugees, illegal immigrants, that was tugged to the port of Gallipoli in Southern Italy early on New Year's Eve (Newsweek's report). Apparently, smugglers of people often abandon ship if they fear an inspection by the authorities will cause them to be found out.
I would imagine that events such as these cause other "human traffickers" to be reminded of the risks involved in their trade and therefore to think twice before trying to carry more immigrants to Europe (or anywhere), and that is too bad. The people being smuggled evidently desire to come to Europe. The smugglers, at a price, are willing to take the legal risk to get them there. The evidence as far as I can judge suggests that the people of the recipient countries are mostly better off by the influx of others. What stands in the way for immigrants is typically nothing more than some silly legislation.
The reports from this particular incident mention a spokesman for the Italian Coastguard saying that a "disaster" was averted as the abandoned cargo ship could be safely tugged into port. While I am not clear on exactly why the ship was abandoned, it would seem that, in similar episodes, disaster could also be averted if the authorities simply stopped inspecting cargo ships in the first place. Then the people smugglers would lack one reason to abandon ship and smuggling would be safer. This would cause the prices which illegal immigrants have to pay to fall, and more people to get what they want.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem intends to list the many individuals who helped the Jews escape the terrible fate which the Nazis wanted for them. The so-called "human traffickers" who carry illegal immigrants to better places are not in general nearly as righteous as the ones listed in Jerusalem; they resist legislation preventing free movement of people rather than the outright killing or enslavement of them, and their motives are pecuniary (morally neutral) rather than humanitarian, but in terms of what their actions ultimately accomplish they deserve far more honour than do the ones wishing to put a stop to their trade and prevent people from peacefully crossing borders.

No news report I have seen mentions what will happen to the individuals whose risky journey to Europe is now at an end, though I guess it will be some kind of lengthy internment at first, followed by the granting of asylum at best or deportation at worst. I hope they can somehow have a better new year than that.

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