EU plan for secure migrant centres is a 'walls and fences' agenda

29 June 2018 - 4:00pm

It is important to put things into perspective: in 2017, 170,000 migrant and refugees – fleeing war and poverty – entered the EU seeking safe haven. This is a drop in the ocean compared to those that poorer countries provide refuge to.

Today’s EU agreement on migration is a ‘walls and fences’ agenda that has little to do with addressing the real drivers of migration.

In reality, this is a deal shaped by far-right wing pressure in Europe and normalised by politicians who are pandering to their demands. It does nothing to address why people are being forced to move: a failed neoliberal economic model, rampant poverty and inequality, devastating climate impacts and armed conflicts, driven by the very same governments whose only response is to push EU border controls into Africa and call for ‘closed camps’. And let’s call them what they really are: prison camps for refugees and migrants.

Rather than echoing Trump’s ‘war on migrants’ or the UK’s own ‘hostile environment’, EU leaders would have been better spending their time discussing how they can work to ensure everyone has the right to a dignified life and put an end to the policies that put profit before people. Despite a global economy that has doubled in size, 80% of the world own just 5.5% of global wealth and billions face the daily reality of barely surviving.

Governments need to get serious. Stop talking tough on migration, pandering to racist politics, and instead take action to end the unjust trade deals, the forced privatisations, the secret tax havens, arms sales, and our corporations exploiting natural resources leaving people with no option but to move. The truth is that since the 1980’s alone, $26 trillion dollars have flowed from the global South to the North, let alone the trillions that were stolen during colonialism. This is literally the poor developing the rich.

Governments have to live up to their legal and moral responsibilities to help and not turn their backs on those in need.  We have an Italian government that is refusing to allow migrant rescue boats to land and calling for all Roma’s to be registered and ‘cleaned off the streets’. Hungary has just made it a criminal offence to help a refugee. And here we have our own hostile environment and the Windrush scandal. This has more in common with Trump’s cages and desert camps than with international human rights law and decency. So let’s stop talking about a refugee or migrant crisis, and call this what it is: a crisis of greed and inhumanity.

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