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Monday, 23 February 2015

Review: ‘Children of the Great Migration’, Panorama, BBC1

This evening, the BBC decided to launch an attempt to tug at the heartstrings and to win yet more support for unrestricted mass immigration into the EU in general, and the UK in particular. Its advance publicity for the programme read:

The timing of the documentary has been prompted by the upcoming ‘migration season’ in the Mediterranean, ‘in what threatens to be its most deadly year yet, [for] Europe has cut the number of rescue boats.’ This, intoned the presenter, represented ‘an unfolding tragedy of horrific proportions.’ The capsizing of two of four dinghies carrying hundreds of African immigrants this winter was cited, in which at least 400 died, part of a recent phenomenon that illustrates that people smugglers are attempting to find a way to extend their operations into the depth of winter. A new tactic pioneered this winter employed a seemingly abandoned, crewless cargo ship, the Ezadeen, into which 450 Syrian immigrants were packed, yielding the people smugglers at least £2 million in profits.

What is also alarming is the fact that ‘it’s also shaping up as a record year of arrivals too.’ Last year, it was stated that the Italian Navy’s now discontinued operation ‘Mare Nostrum’ save the lives of more than 160,000 such immigrants. Now though, it has been scrapped, with a new EU Frontex operation providing a scaled-back patrol closer to EU maritime borders. The presenter wondered how this would cope with rescuing the prospective record number of immigrants, whilst this viewer wondered why it was not defending the coastline of Europe, and returning these migrants to their ports of origin.

Panorama also examined one of the major sources for much of the human efflux from Africa: Eritrea. The Sudanese authorities appeared to be eager to help the documentary makers publicise this problem, as hundreds of thousands of Eritrean emigrants have taken up residence, at least temporarily, on Sudanese soil close to the border with their country of origin. Vast refugee camps have sprung up, and the people traffickers have engaged in bloody exchanges with the Sudanese police, killing and wounding many of their number. Whether it is that the Sudanese are neither willing nor able to police their border with Eritrea is not clear, but the border – in their direction at least – is highly porous.

Although Eritrea’s population is a relatively modest six million, it was described as a ‘source of refugees on an astonishing scale’, with many of these departing being teenagers fleeing conscription in a ‘Marxist-inspired totalitarian state’, with a ‘crippled economy’, political detentions and torture. Conscripts, apparently, become transformed into forced labour in state agriculture and industry.

The largest of the camps in eastern Sudan houses circa 35,000 Eritreans and is overseen by the UNHCR together with the Sudanese authorities. In all, there are reckoned to be some 110,000 Eritreans temporarily resident in eastern Sudan, the majority of them wishing to head to Europe; many, including a number of interviewees, to the UK.

To get all the way to Europe can cost $5,000, with the first leg of the trip taking emigrants across the Sahara, and then from Libya across the Mediterranean, typically to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Cameron’s gung-ho and geopolitically myopic intervention in Libya, which contributed to the overthrow of Qaddhafi and created a state of lawlessness in which both people-smuggling and Islamism can thrive, means that an ever-increasing number of people are setting off from the shores of Libya and heading for Europe. It is but 180 miles from the Libyan port of Zuwara to Lampedusa. From there, the immigrants head to Sicily, thence onwards to other European countries, often the UK.

The proportion of children is growing, and they are often unaccompanied for word has fed back to Africa that Europe will never turn children away and will look after them. The African cuckoo knows that the European reed warbler will look after its young at the expense of its own.

Yes, those who come seek to escape from poverty, vile and often oppressive living conditions. Yes, many of them are subject to repulsive abuse at the hands of people-traffickers. However, we cannot provide a lifeboat for the entire World. If we continue to accept this ever-increasing human tide, we will sink. We will go under. Our society will be swamped, fracture and eventually collapse. This is unsustainable, and cannot go on. What should be done? How can this human tide be staunched and turned back? 

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