Yesterday I read an article about how the Italian coast guard found a floating body of a baby in the Mediterranean Sea. The baby is among the over eight hundred refugees that have died as the boat they were on capsized. As depressing as this headline is, many like it have been published on newspapers, websites and all over the internet. I think somehow, people are growing desensitized to the news and seeing less of themselves in the refugees and looking at them as the un-relatable “other”
A newspaper in Germany published a secret plan that the European Union has been working on with eight African countries where it is looking to fund the governments. This elaborate plan concerns 35 million pounds to be paid in three years for eight African countries, Ethiopia included. The largest portion of the money is expected to go to Sudan that is the hub where migrants from the remaining eight countries, Eritrea, Ethiopia, DRC, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic and Libya, go to make their way to Libya which borders Sudan.
The majority of the funding to Sudan focuses strengthening border security by increasing military presence, video and other tools to block the refugee inflow to Sudan and outflow to Libya which is the gateway to Europe. Needless to say that this plan is coming under serious scrutiny as the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, has a pending International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant, and countries that have received a visit from him have been scrutinized for having let him inside their borders without arresting him. And now, the EU is looking to give his governments millions of pounds. What a world!
But this is not the only “pay off” solution that the EU is working. It has also come up with a similar scheme with Turkey. This deal was celebrated as a solution that will curb the inflow of migrants in the Europe, but not their death. They will return those who made it to Turkey back to where they come from, where they have been running from, where they most likely face death.
An interesting angle to this story is that some of the refugees in Syria have been migrating towards the African continent instead of Europe. Based on some articles I came across stories of Syrian migrants settling in West Africa. In a video aired on BBC, a Syrian family talks about how they ended up settling in Ghana after the traffickers they had paid to take them to Europe left them stranded after taking all their money. After all, some of the largest refugee camps in the world are in Africa. African countries, despite their economic struggle, seem to be more welcoming than those whose economies are in better situations. What a lesson the world is learning!
I often ask what the purpose of writing about these issues is, whether it even makes any difference. But deep down I believe that we must all have some way of showing our protest, our anger and outrage when such injustice happens and the world stays quiet. Whether it is by going out and protesting or writing in our journal, we have to voice it somehow. It is also a way of reclaiming our individual power, in an age that being one among seven billion could make us feel insignificant, we must remember that there’s power in the individual.
Whatever comes out of this, whoever reads it or not, this is to say that I am against the politics that privileges imaginary borders over people’s lives, I am against the senseless death of young men, women and children on the sea. That will never be ok!