LETTER TO SCMP:
[LATER: PUBLISHED ON 19th JUNE]
A couple of points virtually ignored in reporting on the 630 "migrants" recently arrived in Spain. (Italy won no victory in turning away desperate migrants. 17 June)
1. They were rescued close to the coast of Libya. They were barely out of sight of the coast before the NGO ship "Aquarius" was on hand to pick them up. We know from ex-crew members of similar NGO ships that they are in regular contact with the North African traffickers who have pushed off their "clients" in unseaworthy craft. In doing so the NGOs are participating in human trafficking, pure and simple. They were called out on this years ago, they committed to stop doing so, but are back at it again.
These illegal acts by NGOs, as well-meaning as they may be, only serve to encourage ever more illegal migration.
2. No one — no government or NGO — is calling these 630 migrants "refugees". They are labelled "migrants", and sometimes termed, more precisely and more correctly, "illegal migrants" or "undocumented migrants".
They are not, however, refugees.
In paying human traffickers to cross the Mediterranean, these "migrants" are trying to jump the queue of other would-be migrants to Europe. There are laws on migration to Europe. These laws can either be enforced or simply done away with. If abrogated, we must ask: is Europe to be the destination of every poor person in the world? Maybe so, but only when that's been agreed by the existing population in Europe, the resident population whose human rights must also be protected. Such abrogation must not be done as the unilateral decision by NGOs no matter how well-meaning and self-righteous.