Apr 25, 2016
On April 18th, the Somali government announced that a ramshackle boat with almost 500 migrants on board had gone down in the Mediterranean. According to its communique, from 200 to 300 people, mostly Somalis, died there. Other sources speak of 400 victims. This catastrophe follows one year after a trawler sunk with 800 migrants on board offshore of Libya.
During the same weekend of April 16th to 17th one of the ships of the SOS Mediterranean, belonging to a non-profit organization bringing aid to migrants going to Sicily, found six dead at the bottom of the boat. They were added to the “never before seen slaughter in the Mediterranean” as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees called it. In its report, the International Organization for Migrations estimates that 22,000 have died in the Mediterranean between 2000 and 2015.
This figure isn’t about to go down, for since the closing of the Balkan route, the holding of refugees on the Greek islands and the threat of being sent home by force from Turkey, the number of migrants trying to land in Italy has jumped up, with all the risks of sinking that this trip involves.
In mid-April, in four days, 6,000 people reached the Italian coasts, hoping to go from there to northern Europe by crossing the Alps mountains. This is the reason the Austrian government gave, after closing its border with Slovenia, to begin construction at the Brenner Pass, its border with Italy, to enforce controls in order to stop migrants.
This decision led to protests by the European governments, deploring an act against “the spirit and terms of European accords.” These same governments had already proved they were ready to ignore their own agreements if that allowed them to turn their backs to the problem of migrants and leave to other States – including European ones – the burden of solving it. This is the case, among other countries, with the German government, which permitted itself to lecture the Austrian government, while it itself reestablished controls on its Austrian border last autumn.
The Brenner Pass is one of the most important routes for truck traffic of goods, with two million heavyweight trucks going through each year. The trucking companies have already forecast that the big slowdown coming from border controls was going to lead to big increases in costs ... an annoying reality for business, in particular, the German bourgeoisie, for whom this trade route is its most important toward the south of Europe.
As for the inhuman situation of the migrants, before whom the doors of Europe are closing one after another, and who are forced into longer and more dangerous voyages in order to survive, this is no concern of the governments.