An increase of deaths of people risking the journey across the Mediterranean for a new life in Europe has caused ever increasing debate in recent years in both Europe, and around the world.
The definition of a migrant is a person who moves from one place to another (or multiple places) in order to find a better living situation or work. It is important to note that migrants are not always asylum seekers (because there are different types of migrants), but all asylum seekers are migrants.
A question of identity
There are different types of migrants apart from these illegal migrants, which are the most high profile in the media. There are also economic migrants, which are basically anyone who has moved for work.
So considering anyone who has moved for work is classified as a migrant, why are there different labels? Europeans and most westerners are routinely called ‘Expats’ yet Africans and Asians are called ‘Immigrants.’
While the two words have the same meaning, they have very different connotations, one creates images of luxury, excitement, travel and high incomes while the other creates images of sneaking across borders, poverty, low wages and suspicion. Obviously there is much more to the issue, but while we have all heard the term ‘illegal immigrant,’ I’ve never heard the term ‘Illegal Expat.’
Year on year the numbers of people attempting the crossing have grown, unfortunately the number of deaths have also increased; and year on year Europe seems to be getting more and more indifferent to the plight of those who are risking their lives in search of a new start.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) 1,200 migrants have died so far this year, 79% of those deaths happened in the Mediterranean Sea. The line between rescuing and policing to area is a large part of the debate and the UK have refused to offer more than minimal assistance arguing that helping people will only encourage them to come to Europe.
— IOM (@IOM_news) May 14, 2015
A plea for help
The people attempting the crossing into Europe are mainly from African or Middle Eastern nations, fleeing war, persecution or violence that has either happened to themselves directly, or in the area they are from. They agree to pay a lot of money to traffickers through either savings or agreeing to a loan which is sold along the line and ultimately ends up in a life of slavery to pay off the debt. Since you are only allowed to claim asylum in the country you are in, a lot of migrants also need assistance in traveling across Europe to their end destination.
Yes, the people making the crossing chose to do so, but how much of that decision was made for them by events of their point of origin? No one would criticise the motives of a family fleeing Syria, until they try to get into Europe to safety. No one criticises the motives, but too many are questioning them.
These are people who need and want help, anyone who is willing to put their life at risk to try and build themselves a new life needs help and support not indifference and suspicion. They are not ‘queue jumpers’ or ‘scroungers’ or ‘cockroaches’ they are people. If the European governments want to slow the number of illegal migrants then they should be looking at their laws and making it easier for people to arrive in Europe so that they would not need to go to the traffickers.
These people need help, and we should be giving them help, not pointing and questioning.
What do you think? What should be done about the migrant issue? Have your say in the comments section below.