I have been following the stories on the media about migrants. All are fleeing the places where they and their ancestors lived for generations to developed countries mostly in the hope of a better safer life and occasionally in order to avoid persecution, torture and death. They are people who cram into small unsafe boats and cross the seas, or people who swim rivers in attempts to enter other nations. Some make their way through Europe in the hope of joining the United Kingdom’s sixty four millions and end up in camps in Calais where they risk life and limb to hide in and under trucks in the hope of making it across the border.
They come from Africa, from the Middle East and from Latin America and all sorts of other places. The places from which they depart are insecure and they cannot make a living or live safely or even feed themselves and their families.
This behaviour is perfectly normal; generations ago places like the United States of America, Latin America and Australia were populated by migrants who behaved in exactly the same ways as today’s migrants behave. However, then the places welcomed migrants; they needed to boost their populations and expand into the lands that they claimed, and in claiming such lands oppressed and decimated the indigenous inhabitants of large parts of the planet often by genocide. Some escaped the threat of genocide in one place ending up participating in genocide in a different place.
Today, having populated the empty areas in ways that the present inhabitants feel satisfactory, the nations into which migrants want to escape are actively preventing the migrants from entering. Instead of welcoming huddled masses we spurn them.
These problems are not easily solved. If we continue in our policies in ten years we shall see large camps all over Europe and the USA in which migrants are permanently interned, a nation of homeless stateless desperate people. The policies that the developed nations are pursuing simply attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to treat the symptoms rather than find a cure.
I cannot propose a comprehensive solution but it strikes me that there are two things that we must do to improve the places from which migrants wish to escape. The first is to target our official aid more carefully. We should not spend aid on calculating the carbon emissions of the Dakar Rally, or on games shows in Ethiopia or promoting the safe use of Facebook in Laos. We should not spend aid on so many consultants who seem to use it in order to enrich themselves as much as their objects of aid. Aid should be spent on providing the means of life – food, shelter, medicine and work in these places.
The second thing that we must do is to prevent these places from being dangerous. The wealthy nations of the world have constantly sold arms in these places. This has created the means of war, and the ability for some to attempt to dominate others. We must stop this and let the warriors run out of bullets. They will be easier to pacify then.
I cannot see the political will to address the migrant problem and certainly not by directing aid properly or by preventing the sale of arms. The internment camps will come, large nations of migrants rounded up and stuck in reservations, looking through the razor wire on a life that they cannot live.