The tragedy in the Mediterranean gets worse and worse

Morning View
Morning View

One of the biggest global disasters of recent years is unfolding in the Mediterranean.

Thousands of migrants are drowning every year in a bid to get across that sea to Europe.

Hundreds are dying in single incidents, that seem to be occurring with alarming and growing frequency. More than 700 migrants are feared to have died in three shipwrecks near Italy in the last few days alone.

This is a huge moral and political challenge for Europe, to which there is nothing even approaching an easy answer.

These drownings are not anything to do with the war in Syria, which has triggered a vast wave of migration up through the southeast of Europe, via Turkey.

Dealing with the Syrian refugees has itself presented the EU with a massive challenge.

The drownings in places such as Italy are a reflection of a potentially much bigger problem, which is the migration from Africa. Hundreds of millions of people in Africa are young adults or now approaching adulthood and they face lives of destitution and see hope in Europe.

The immigration debate is much greater than Brexit, and will persist whether the UK remains in or out of Europe.

There is no question that Angela Merkel’s announcement of a near open door in Germany greatly worsened the problem but major migration was happening well before it.

British and Irish and other EU naval vessels have been saving lives but we will have to be tough and continually send rescued migrants back to Africa.

The message will have to be sent out continually that crossing the Med is dangerous and even if someone is saved they will not make it to Europe.

If the continent was to accept every person in the world who wants to move to it, there would be economic and social collapse and grave disorder. It is a tragedy that we cannot help scores of millions of desperate people, but it is the truth.