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Vantage | What Meloni vs Islam says about Europe’s migrant crisis


Vantage | What Meloni vs Islam says about Europe's migrant crisis

Changing the demographic shortfall is perhaps the only long-term solution to Europe's immigration problem

The Vantage Take December 20, 2023 11:15:50 IST Vantage | What Meloni vs Islam says about Europe's migrant crisis

Representational image. REUTERS

Monday was International Migrants Day. In 1990, the United Nations decided to honour migrants every 18th of December.

But there isn’t really much to celebrate. Everywhere migrants are seen as a problem, and not a cause for celebration.

Let’s take Europe, for example. Most European countries profess liberal democratic values and human rights, but in practice, they are scrambling in the opposite direction. They are trying to get rid of immigrants.

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The UK has its controversial Rwanda deportation plan which has inspired Germany to do the same. Meanwhile, Italy has struck a deal with Albania to outsource immigrants, and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, is going viral because of her old video where she says Islam is not compatible with Europe.

“We have seen this year in terms of irregular migration where historic levels have been superseded. So, for instance, in the Americas, half a million people have crossed through the Darien gap in Colombia. We’ve seen the highest number of deaths, for example, and missing migrants in the Mediterranean,” said Ugochi Daniels, Deputy Director General of Operations for the International Organization for Migration.

The UN-related agency in charge of celebrating International Migrants Day. But increasingly, we hear alarm bells ringing when it comes to migration, specifically, unregulated or illegal migration.

“This year already, (there have been) more than 36,000 irregular arrivals by sea to the canary islands. Out of those more than 4,000 maybe 4,500 unaccompanied minors. This is a true challenge for these beautiful islands to deal with such a huge arrival that we have seen this year,” said Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs.

That’s a sobering example of the problem that Europe is facing. Every year, hundreds of thousands try and migrate to Europe. Some do this to escape persecution back home others do it to try and make a better life for themselves.

Thousands take to the Mediterranean sea on ramshackle boats and many lose their lives in the process.

Whatever their reason, the migrants are entering Europe in an unregulated manner, and the continent is overwhelmed.

The Uk Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes there’s something even more dangerous afoot.

“Criminal gangs will find ever cheaper ways to ply their evil trade. They will exploit our humanity. And they think nothing of putting people’s lives at risk when they put them in these boats at sea. And our enemies will also see that we are unable to deal with this and then they will so increasingly use migration as a weapon deliberately driving people to our shores to try to destabilise our societies,” said Sunak.

That’s a very alarming prediction, the weaponisation of migrants, so is Europe doing anything to prevent this?

Some countries are trying to work out novel solutions, Sunak and his government want to deport migrants to Rwanda, a nation in Africa, the UK’s parliament recently approved a bill that might put this plan in motion. It’s not a done deal yet, but that’s Sunak’s plan of action. And this seems to have inspired a German political party as well.

A leader from Germany’s Christian Democrats party said that they might opt for this third country solution as well. This party is in the opposition in Germany. It could just be an election pitch because it’s easier said than done.

There are UN refugee and human rights conventions which can stop this sort of plan, so for now, it’s all theoretical.

Italy is also trying something similar. It wants to send migrants to Albania.

Albania was to host a few thousand migrants while their asylum applications got processed.

But a few days ago, an Albanian court blocked this scheme. Over the weekend, the British and Albanian Prime Ministers went to Italy, at the invitation of Italian PM Meloni.

They were going to sit down and discuss the migration issue and try to find a way forward. But that event was partly oveshadowed by a different issue as an old video of Meloni resurfaced and went viral.

In it she’s heard saying that “Islam and Europe have a compatibility problem”. Later she says that she’s talking about a certain interpretation of Islam, but her words are clearly directed at the so-called other, the outsider, or the migrants.

And as things stand, Europe still has no solution to the migrant crisis. Whatever the religion or country of origin, Europe says it does not want any more migrants.

“So we expect to see a continued upward trend in regular migration because of labour shortages in the so-called Global North and youthful population in the Global South,” said Ugochi Daniels.

If Europe continues to grey, it will keep getting migrants. There will be a shortage of workers. People will migrate to fill those labour shortages. It is simple demand and supply. Changing the demographic shortfall is perhaps the only long-term solution to Europe’s immigration problem. Until Europe addresses that, it will not be able to stop the boats and all the Rwanda or Albania plans won’t amount to much more than failed campaign promises.

Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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