But it was barely mentioned by the media. The deaths have only been seen as an opportunity to attack the people traffickers, not the ongoing tragedy of people fleeing war and poverty.
Far more would have drowned if a rescue boat had not been able to drop life rafts. Around 370 people survived the sinking, saying they had been charged up to £1,160 to travel.
Despite the 200 who drowned, in Britain the politicians’ and the media’s focus is still on Calais.
The Tories’ attempts to scapegoat refugees reached a new low this week when millionaire foreign secretary Philip Hammond complained about African migrants “marauding” around Calais.
He was in Singapore for the 50th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire.
This is a reminder that the real people who marauded around the world plundering wealth were British imperialists—not African migrants.
Hammond claimed, “Europe can’t protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social infrastructure, if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa.”
There’s no evidence that any refugees fleeing war, or “economic migrants”, cause economic problems.
Is Hammond’s rant aimed at the 4,276 doctors from Nigeria who currently work in Britain or the 1,692 from Sudan? Far from holding Britain back migrants built the NHS.
Hammond wants us to blame migrants for low wages and the lack of jobs and housing.
The Tories instensified their scapegoating last Monday by slashing support for asylum seekers with children (see box above).
But the experience of a couple of thousand refugees in Calais has become linked to our own rulers’ propaganda that migrants are “overwhelming” Britain.
David Cameron’s language about “swarms” here becomes an overt attack on how Africans supposedly draw Europe back.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called Hammond’s language “alarmist”.
But the best she could come up with was, “We need practical responses to help refugees, stop people smuggling, and prevent illegal travelling.”
The real solution is that Britain should stop pushing policies that destroy
people’s lives and force them to flee war and poverty.
And it should let the refugees in Calais into Britain.
The Daily Mail newspaper ran five pages on Monday supposedly exposing how “foreigners” were getting treatment in other EU countries paid for by the NHS.
But it doesn’t explain why migrants would want to, since they already have access to health care services.
The Mail has already been caught out printing inaccurate headlines about numbers of migrants travelling from Calais.
Journalist Jon Danzig complained about the distortions and was told that the true figures were “explained lower down in the story”.
Israel faces new crisis