Sometimes it is in the gap between things that the truth emerges.
In recent years Europe has been on the receiving end of one of the most significant migrant crises in history. In 2015, in just a single year, countries such as Germany and Sweden found themselves adding 2% to their respective populations. Although much of the public continue to labour under the misapprehension that those still coming are fleeing the Syrian civil war; in fact, the majority of those now entering Europe are from Africa, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year. Spain — which had ducked much of the movement of recent years — now finds itself receiving thousands of people who are sometimes (as in this memorable footage from earlier this month) simply landing on the country’s beaches and running straight into the country. In doing so, they are not only breaking into Europe in a fashion that is illegal, but flouting all the asylum protocols, and other protocols, however inadequate, that are meant to exist.
In reaction to such events, the Spanish authorities have done something extraordinary. They have gone the way of the Italian authorities and made more efforts to intercept boats heading towards the country. Not in order to turn them around or block them, but in order to “rescue” them. In merely one day last week, the Spanish coastguards “rescued” 600 migrants. The purpose of the quotation marks around “rescue” is because its use in this context is highly contestable. Somebody may be rescued from a burning car, or rescued from a sinking boat. But if thousands of people intentionally head across narrow stretches of water, it can hardly be said that each and every one of them has been “rescued’.
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