THE UN refugee agency has said once again that not enough is being done to save the lives of the tens of thousands of migrants who are being driven by hunger to try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.
A UNHCR spokesman said yesterday that around 400 migrants, men, women and very young children are still missing, believed drowned, after the unseaworthy boat that they were on capsized mid-way between Libya and Italy.
The Libyan coastguard has already warned that many more people will be trying to cross from Libya to Europe in the coming days.
Hundreds more migrants rescued from boats in the Mediterranean are due to arrive in Sicily during this period.
More than 8,000 migrants have been picked up since Friday, and many more old and leaky boats are heading for the Italian coast.
UN officials say well over 500 people have died since the start of the year, 30 times more than in the same period last year.
Last year, 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to Italy and up to 3,500 died while making the journey, officials say.
Faced with this developing crisis, the Italian government’s maritime rescue operation was cut right back, after charges that having a rescue force simply encouraged more crossings, and that having no rescue apparatus was the way to deal with the crisis, that is to leave the migrants to drown!
However, such is the hunger in North Africa and the Middle East, more people are being driven to attempt the crossing, not less, and they say that risking drowning is the lesser evil to staying where they are.
What limited rescue attempts are being made, now also face armed people-smuggling gangs that are now so emboldened as to fire on the attempted rescuers.
After most of the migrants were rescued in the latest shipwreck, traffickers in a speedboat drove towards the rescuers, firing shots before retrieving the now-empty migrant boat for further use.
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told the European Parliament: ‘The unprecedented influx of migrants at our borders, and in particular refugees, is unfortunately the new norm and we will need to adjust our responses accordingly.’
It is being alleged that this is a code-worded suggestion that the best course for the imperialist powers is to have no rescue at all and to leave the migrants to their fate! However, the sole blame for what is happening rests with the imperialist powers.
In 2003, Bush and Blair attacked Iraq, broke the country and created the conditions for Al-Qaeda and Shia sectarianism to flourish with the removal and hanging of Saddam Hussein.
Millions of people have fled Iraq, first of all Baathists and now hundreds of thousands of Christians and Yazidis are being forced to head for Europe.
Then there was Libya, which was disarmed of its wmds by Blair so that it could be destroyed by NATO, and Islamist gangs, that it armed and sponsored.
Gadaffi was butchered, the country with its vast resources, which employed more than one million non-Libyans, is being looted, and thousands are now leaving for Europe in small boats every month!
Then there was Syria, where the Baathist regime was known as the protector of the minorities, such as the Druze and the Christians. In this capacity, Assad was invited to Buckingham Palace!
Backed by the Saudis and Qataris, the UK-US axis sent thousands of Islamists into Syria to overthrow Assad.
They are unable to overthrow Assad, but hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have been exiled. Many of these have no alternative but to head for Europe for the sake of their families, marshalled by gangs of bloodsucking traffickers.
The imperialist robbers have wrecked a huge area from Iraq to Libya, and destroyed the lives of millions.
The workers of the West have a duty to these millions of people and must demand and see to it that the refugees be resettled throughout Europe.
There is only one remedy for this crisis. This is that the working class of the world must rise up to smash capitalism and imperialism and replace it with world socialism to create a better life for all, regardless of nationality or religion.