I awake to find yet another tragedy unfolding off the coast of Italy, with the reported sinking of a people smuggling vessel carrying around 500 Africans destined for the coast at Lampedusa in Sicily; the nearest chunk of the beloved EU to the North African Coast. 500 dreams of a better life extinguished in the cold dark waters of the Mediterranean. Since 1988, an estimated 20,000 have met a similar fate in these waters, explains an exasperated Coast Guard official as he counts the body bags piled up in the makeshift morgue. No doubt, hapless migrants are queuing (and being loaded on by Libya) for the next wave of ramshackle rafts to chance the crossing in the hope of a better life.
A better life is all they are coming for. Forget the myth that an Afghani will pay thousands and travel the breadth of Europe to claim asylum in Hull when he could simply state his claim in any number of EU countries. The queues at Sangatte are of Kurds, Iraqis and Rwandans, not oppressed Belgians seeking sanctuary in a neighbouring State.
So what has drawn them here and instils the urge to travel across continents at great risk to life and limb? Here it comes: free everything. Housing, schooling, medical care and free money. Before you lot start, I know the life of an Angolan asylum seeker locked up in a detention centre in Milton Keynes is no life of taxpayer funded luxury. I know that many arrive with life threatening diseases they simply cannot afford to treat in their home nations and I know that many are more than happy for even the remotest chance to earn a wage instead of a life of abject poverty in some fly blown hellhole in the Horn of Africa. I also know that until we remove the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, many more thousands will end up washed up on the beaches of Sicily.
I’m not going to bore you with the statistics of how many Somali’s actually find work or simply chew khat all day in the republics of Tower Hamlets or Bristol East. Whatever they find here is better than a hand to mouth existence at home, despite the seemingly bottomless pit of money directed at their nations in the name of “International Aid”. We aren’t making Africa any better by financing mass poverty; we are just making the lure of a place in welfare-funded Europe more attractive. Our faux guilt that results in us buying Learjets for despotic regimes in return for increased arm sales is not helping anyone but a small cabal of tribal elites. Our ridiculous farming subsidies mean that a Kenyan farmer seeks a council house in Droitwich as an easier way to make a living than trying to export his beans to the EU. Meanwhile, our artificially drawn lines of the nation States of Colonial Africa pitch ancient tribe against tribe in pointless genocides for power.
Our taxpayer funded pseudo-charities continue to pay their CEO’s vast fortunes for “doing good work in Africa” whilst ignoring the basic principle of living: to make a better life for your children. Our arrogant Politicians hand out sweeteners to Despots in the name of “foreign trade” whilst prohibiting anything of the sort to the actual people producing things in Africa. “Take our aid, buy our stuff with it” proclaim DFID as the shareholders of BAE Systems smile at the dividends made on arms sales to Africa. “No, if we sell your beans here, our fat fingered red faced farmers will be undercut and forced to own just the one State subsidised Range Rover.”
If we want to stop poverty in Africa, we have to buy their stuff. The Chinese know this and are carving out massive trade deals with the continent, safe in the knowledge that any Africans fleeing to welfare wealth will end up in Europe, not Hong Kong. If we want to stop dead African economic migrants washing up on our beaches, we have to give them the chance to find their fortunes at home. We have to stop our culture of Aid and Welfare for all and allow Africa to trade itself into prosperity. Put the lid back on the free jam and the wasps will disappear.