The deadly season is almost over. Soon, the waters between Europe and Africa will become less attractive to cross, as winter approaches. Human traffickers will retreat into the shadows to count their money and lay plans to ensnare hundreds and thousands of “fish” in their boats next season. And most of all, they will spend the time praying Europe doesn´t disrupt the money-making opportunity of a lifetime by coming to its senses. Instead, they hope with every fiber of their beings that the kindness of Europeans and their governments will continue to lure great masses of people directly into their hands.
As long as a golden ticket in the form of access to a European welfare state is dangled in front of millions of people in less prosperous societies, the sea will continue to claim its victims and the traffickers will continue to pack anything that halfway floats with human cargo. And the answer is not to provide ferry service to assist in making the illegal trade more profitable. Aid agencies that do anything other than return people to non-European shores, are part of the problem, not the solution. Their misguided “assistance” is the best friend the coastal criminal ever had. Despite the intentions behind the efforts.
Intentions are not enough. Intentions don´t matter if activities actually result in more people placing themselves in danger and more money in the pockets of hyenas. Intentions don´t matter; effective policies matter. Effective policies save lives. Effective policies are why Australia no longer has bodies washing up on its shores and an illegal trade flourishing on false hopes. No one can gain access to legal status in Australia by paying a trafficker to ferry them to a shore. As a result, unsurprisingly, no one is willing to pay anyone for any such service. Asylum can still be claimed there –and those in dire need of safety still flee to Australian asylum facilities. But these facilities are not attractive enough to act as a magnet for those only seeking a better standard of living. So the integrity of the asylum system is preserved and affords those it is intended to serve shelter and safety. Long after the European countries cease to be able to offer asylum due to overwhelming abuse of the system by those who do not qualify (The UN itself has verified that the vast majority of those arriving in Europe by boat do not qualify for asylum), Australia will still be able to help those truly seeking to escape persecution and imminent danger.
I do not suggest that people be left in the water to drown. I suggest that they be taken aboard and delivered to an asylum facility outside of Europe, where their applications can be assessed and processed. Under no circumstances should they gain access to the rights and privileges of an asylum seeker if they are not entitled to such a status. Paying your way into Europe via smugglers must not remain a viable option. And we must cease assisting human traffickers in making their deadly business more attractive and sustainable. We must take effective measures that end all the meaningless deaths related to this criminal industry.
The need to think of oneself as kind, welcoming and morally in the right is understandable. Who wouldn´t enjoy such a shining self-image that is free of guilt over living in prosperity because you are so willing to share it with the whole of humanity? It is easy to comprehend the appeal. But remember how high a price those heeding the siren call of your good intentions may have to pay for your “kindness”.