Europe is facing the most significant refugee crisis since World War II. All attempts at resolving the issue have failed, mostly because they have ignored the root causes of the problem.
On June 11, Italy’s new Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, blocked the Aquarius rescue ship, carrying 629 refugees and economic migrants, from docking at its ports.
A statement by Doctors without Borders (MSF) stated that the boat was carrying 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.
“From now on, Italy begins to say NO to the traffic of human beings, NO to the business of illegal immigration,” said Salvini, who also heads the far-right League Party.
The number of refugees was repeated in news broadcasts time and again, as a mere statistic. In reality, it is 629 precious lives at stake, each with a compelling reason why she/he has undertaken the deadly journey.
While the cruelty of refusing entry to a boat laden with desperate refugees is obvious, it has to be viewed within a larger narrative pertaining to the rapidly changing political landscape in Europe and the crises under way in the Middle East and North Africa.
Italy’s new government, a coalition of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and the far-right League party, seems intent on stopping the flow of refugees into the country, as promised on the campaign trail.
However, if politicians continue to ignore the root causes of the problem, the refugee crisis will not go away on its own.