Another week, another appalling boat disaster in the Mediterranean, another round of the same tired row on migration. Yesterday a boat carrying 600 people sank off the coast of Libya; 400 people were rescued, the rest are feared dead, trapped in the belly of the boat.
This morning the same round of cliches are being trotted out. The pro-immigration lobby says our restrictive policies are cruel. The anti-immigration brigade say we must not encourage masses of people to come. But the migrant crisis is too great for such shallow responses. In this week’s Spectator, Paul Collier says that this ‘lazy thinking’ gets us nowhere. He has an alternative, and it involves more than just a few Royal Navy ships fishing people out of the water.
If we really want to help refugees, he says, look beyond the Mediterranean. There are ten million people displaced from Syria, and we have a duty to help more than just the ones who try to cross the sea illegally. Our duty is to provide better futures for as many of the displaced as possible — and their overwhelming hope is not to live permanently in Europe, but to return to a post-conflict Syria. Effective rescue should be about salvaging as much of their disrupted lives as possible. If they are in the sea, it involves pulling them out. But this needs to be set within a broader strategy, which involves helping those refugees who don’t dream about a life in Europe.
You can read the piece here.