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In the first three days of this month, 200 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean. This brings the total for 2018 so far to over 1,000, according to the UN.
More than 34,000 migrants and refugees have died in the attempt to reach Europe since 1997, according to Dutch NGO United for Intercultural Action. In reality the figure is likely much higher.
In response, the EU set up a €2 billion fund in 2014 to have African governments prevent people leaving for Fortress Europe. By 2017, all that had changed was that migrant deaths off the north coast of Africa had doubled, while deaths on European soil had halved.
Despite this, at the recent EU migration summit in Brussels, leaders agreed to expand the exportation of the problem to North Africa by building mass migrant 'processing facilities' - in effect, prison camps.
Capitalist leaders throw responsibility around like a hot potato with the goal of massaging the figures and protecting political interests. This is exacerbating the fracturing of relations within the bosses' EU.
German chancellor Angela Merkel described the summit as "make or break" for the EU. She risked losing her parliamentary majority as the right-wing leader of her Bavarian sister party, the CSU, threatened to walk out over immigration policy.
Freshly elected Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, a right-wing populist, threatened to veto the whole summit unless he gained concessions against immigration. Humanitarian rescue ships have already been prevented from docking in Italy by the new government.
These policies solve nothing. They only amount to systematic racist attacks on migrants and refugees. Theresa May's "hostile environment" which led to the Windrush scandal proved this. Now the Home Office has admitted mistakenly detaining 850 people, including Windrush citizens - 63 of who it deported 'in error'.
Isn't it a coincidence that none of the migrants languishing in detention centres or dying in the Mediterranean have been super-wealthy members of the elite? The working class and poor suffer the most from the catastrophe created by imperialism in the Middle East and beyond.
In Britain, the Refugee Rights Campaign organises refugees to fight for their rights. Closing detention centres, for the right to work, for a £10 an hour minimum wage - and importantly, the right to join a trade union and fight alongside other workers against the exploitation of the bosses.
The Socialist Party fights for jobs, homes and services for all: those already here as well as those forced to flee war and poverty.
Article dated 4 July 2018
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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