When I read the report in the press that Britain would no longer support any future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants & refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean. I was horrified. This aid has been cut because it was thought that it created a “pull factor”. My instant feeling was that people who do these perilous, dangerous, awful journeys don’t do it on whim, they don’t do it because they just feel like it. They are desperate.
It is sheer desperation.
I thought of my cousin. My cousin’s children who he & his wife adopted. They had been migrants,refugees on one of the boats in the Mediterranean. Without the aid , would they have been another statistic. Here are the words of my cousin about his children and what happened on their journey :
The issue of people leaving African shores to try get to Europe for a better life has deep personal significance for me. Over four years ago, my wife and I adopted two young sisters from an unknown country. At the time, we were living in the Mediterranean. My daughters had been on a boat attempting to cross from Africa to Europe when the boat capsized.The army medic who saved them described what had happened to the local paper:
According to the army officer, the youngest was almost dead when she was taken on board an army rescue boat.
“She looked like a rag doll. She was not breathing and had no pulse.”
An engineer, trained as a combat medic, said a colleague handed him the baby, who was around six months’ old at the time.
“There was chaos, immigrants in the sea and the two children floating face down. Her lungs were full of water,” he said.
After removing the water filling her lungs and applying CPR, she started stirring, although she remained unconscious. The eldest girl was also unconscious, but in a better state than her sister.
Tragically, by the time they had rescued their birth mother from the sea, she had died. It turned out she was the only person from the 27 passengers on board who had died, and, given that no-one on the boat knew her identity or any other details, these two girls were placed in an orphanage. The following year, we became aware of their situation and started the adoption process.
That was almost five years ago, and they have since grown into very loving, bright and happy girls that both my wife and I love to bits. Eventually, after getting through quite a bit of red-tape, I found out what had happened to their birth mother’s body. She had been buried in an unmarked grave as though she had died as a “non-person”. Her plight, her loss and her tragic death were recorded and acknowledged, only to the extent of six letters and two numbers scribbled on her death certificate: “Corpse 49”. It wasn’t just that her existence had been forgotten; it was almost as though she had never even been alive in first place. What I do know is that, if the rescue boat has arrived just one minute later, neither of my daughters would have survived. They too would have been buried in unmarked graves with their mother, to become “non-children”, and presumably would have been named “Corpse 50” and “Corpse 51”. Their deaths would have been a non-event, grieved by no-one.
Reading my cousins description of what happened to his children, is powerful and emotional. The people on the boats are not statistics – they are people. People that are hoping for a better world for their families, themselves, their friends.
Do the British Govt really think by cutting support to people in this situation it will stop people from taking these journeys.
20,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean in the last 20 years.
My cousin has started a petition please sign here : https://www.change.org/p/uk-goverment-reverse-the-decision-to-stop-assisting-in-rescue-operations-in-the-mediterranean