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Dying for Europe

LONDON – This summer, a gruesome tragedy unfolded aboard a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Twenty-nine men, women, and children fleeing crisis-torn countries succumbed to engine fumes in the vessel’s hold. As 60 others scrambled to escape, the human traffickers carrying them to Europe stabbed them and threw them into the sea off the coast of Lampedusa. Eventually, a Danish petrol tanker rescued 569 survivors.

More recently, some 500 migrants died off the coast of Malta, when a group of human traffickers responded to the passengers’ refusal to move onto smaller vessels by deliberately ramming the boat that had carried them from Egypt. Less than a week later, dozens of asylum-seekers perished when their boat capsized near the Libyan coast.

Such large numbers of deaths in and around Europe should do more than briefly seize headlines. But Europeans seem inured to the plight of asylum-seekers and migrants, almost 3,000 of whom have died in the Mediterranean this year. This situation is untenable, both morally and politically.

Of course, Europe cannot help all of those fleeing violence and destitution. But, as the world’s wealthiest continent, it can certainly do more, especially if it adopts a unified approach.