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Sunday, 6 September 2015

'Lives in suspension'

Illegal immigration across the Mediterranean has been an issue for a long time. Yesterday, I mentioned a pile of Traveller magazines I was browsing through prior to disposal.  In the May-June 2005 issue, there’s a photo-article by Matias Costa showing the plight of migrants entering Italy illegally by boat. Here are a few passages selected from the article:

Immigrants packed into a tiny vessel travel under cover of darkness…

Landed at Lampedusa before going to a reception centre in Palermo…

The sea crossing is so fraught that Italian newspapers have described the stretch of water between Africa and Sicily as a huge underwater graveyard.

Sound familiar? Ten years ago!

In the same piece, also:

George Alagiah, BBC News Presenter: ‘If water is a force of nature, then migration is a force of history. The challenge is not to try to stop it but how to manage it.’

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General: ‘For millions of refugees and displaced people around the world, ‘home’ is a place they have fled from in fear of their lives, in a desperate attempt to find safety.’

Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador: ‘Statistics tell only part of the story – behind the figures are families struggling to survive… all those lives in suspension for years and years.’
 
Brunson McKinley, Director of the International Organization for Migration: ‘Migration will be one of the major policy concerns of the twenty-first century.’

Then, the UN estimated there were more than 17 million asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. And that was before the appalling fighting and displacement in the Middle East and North Africa in the last few years, and the rise of the medieval so-called IS.

The writing was on the wall ten years ago.  And what has happened? It’s now much worse.

Until the continent of Africa is deemed safe from terror, the ‘great escape’ will continue.

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