When 629 people were rescued from drowning they might have expected to be treated with some humanity.
Instead they were brutally rejected. Aquarius, a ship operated by SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), had rescued migrants from inflatable boats off the coast of Libya last weekend.
Among those packed onto the Aquarius were 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 other children and seven pregnant women.
They had hoped to find refuge in Italy. But the new Italian government, keen to show its racism is sincere, would not allow the ship to dock. Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, from the far right Lega, wrote, “Saving lives at sea is a duty, but transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp is not. Italy is done bowing its head and obeying.”
The Spanish government said it would accept the ship at the port of Valencia. But on Monday MSF pointed out that’s three days away.
“Health and safety of people rescued onboard including sick and injured people, pregnant women and children must come first,” said the organisation.
This is what a “crackdown on immigration” means—human beings treated like rubbish, their lives cheap and disposable.
The Italian government, and others like it including Britain’s, want hundreds of people to drown to deter others from trying to flee to Europe to escape war, poverty and climate change.