Monday 26 September 2016

More EU aid to Africa is repeating the same old mistakes

Published 19/05/2015 | 02:30

Illegal migrants who attempted to sail to Europe, sit in a boat carrying them back to Libya, after their boat was intercepted at sea by the Libyan coast guard, at Khoms. Libya's coast guard detained on Wednesday almost 600 illegal African migrants, among them pregnant women and 18 children, who had tried to sail to Europe on a fishing boat, a security official said (REUTERS/Aymen Elsahli)
Illegal migrants who attempted to sail to Europe, sit in a boat carrying them back to Libya, after their boat was intercepted at sea by the Libyan coast guard, at Khoms. Libya's coast guard detained on Wednesday almost 600 illegal African migrants, among them pregnant women and 18 children, who had tried to sail to Europe on a fishing boat, a security official said (REUTERS/Aymen Elsahli)

In a world increasingly riven by absolutist definitions, we see social and cultural battle lines being drawn wherever we look.

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Friday's Referendum, for example, has been clumsily portrayed as a battle between tolerance and intolerance. That makes for a cute soundbite but the truth, as usual, is rather more complex.

Similarly, the current humanitarian disaster which sees tens of thousands of African migrants risking their lives on a boat journey across the Med to the European promised land is framed in an equally naive and simplistic fashion - anyone who thinks it's madness to open our borders to Africa's problems is, inevitably, accused of being happy to watch people drown.

In fact, maybe you even think of them not as people, but "cockroaches", just like Katie Hopkins (Hopkins was either ignorant of the use of the word "cockroach" during the Rwandan genocide, or she didn't care. My guess is the former).

The latest EU initiative to deal with this ever-growing problem is, inevitably, to throw more aid money to those African countries which are used as transit stops along the way.

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting a different outcome, then this surely proves that our European overlords are completely mad.

After all, the 'Wall Street Journal' estimates that $50bn a year is flushed down the voracious toilet that is aid to Africa, so why would they expect an extra few quid to bribe corrupt governments to have any impact?

The answer, of course, is that they know it will have no effect whatsoever, but it makes them feel a bit better about themselves.

The great myth of this unfolding crisis is that these are refugees fleeing Syria through ports in Libya and we in the West somehow owe them something. They're not, and we don't.

In fact, it is estimated that 90-95pc of those risking the journey are from sub-Saharan countries like Senegal, Mali and the Ivory Cast. In other words, this is simply a case of mass illegal immigration and is something which must be stopped, by force if necessary, for the sake of both Europe and the migrants themselves.

More than 1,800 people have drowned this year and the heart- rending pictures of floating corpses and the horror stories of the survivors are enough to elicit a sympathetic response in the stoniest of souls.

But sympathy doesn't solve problems, it merely leads to rash decisions which fail to take the bigger picture into account. The bigger picture here is one of Africa's failure, not our own, and what we're witnessing is the inevitable consequence of keeping countries addicted to the never-ending teat that is foreign aid.

As much as the permanently bleeding hearts of the European left would love to argue to the contrary, we cannot be expected to sort out the problems of the developing world. After all, they are not children to be cosseted and excused whenever something terrible happens.

This patronising and undeniably racist attitude towards African incompetence would have us throw open our borders while we throw more money at the corrupt regimes, who must bear the ultimate responsibility for their own populations preferring to risk their lives than stay where they were born.

Stopping the problem at its source, which means creating countries that are stable and free of corruption, is something that will probably never happen because it requires the will to make unpopular political decisions.

So we must stop it where it hits our borders - by dismantling the smuggling network and killing a sufficient number of the smugglers to make it more trouble than it's worth.

You can't blame people for making the journey, but that doesn't mean we should let them all in.

Irish Independent

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