Despite our coffin ships, we too have failed the refugees
Published 21/04/2015 | 02:30
Yesterday, politicians in the EU, who effectively signed the death warrants of the 1,500 refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year, were wringing their hands about those deaths. But they must have known their decision to dramatically scale back a search-and-rescue mission, cutting its funding by one-third, would necessarily result in huge loss of life.
In fact, they were warned. Amnesty International said: "history will judge this decision as unforgiveable" and, in case there was any confusion, "many lives will be lost in the Mediterranean Sea unless EU member states step up to ensure a fully fledged, joint search and rescue operation".
But they didn't. They said it was essential that rescue missions were downsized so that migrants would be discouraged from coming to Europe. A statement from the British Home Office, defending the UK's decision to end its support for the rescue mission, perversely said it was resulting in even more deaths - that more people were willing to risk their lives because they knew there was a greater chance of being saved.