Monday, 20 April 2015

The Libyan migrant tragedy

As the tragedy of "illegal migrants" fleeing Libya unfolds in the Mediterranean, it is time, perhaps, for the British Government to admit its own share of responsibility, not only for refusing its backing to a successor to the Italian 'Mare Nostrum'  search and rescue programme, withdrawn last year because of a lack of international support, but for its prior role with France and the USA in the destruction of any recognisable governmental authority within Libya itself. 
Can any rational, responsible exercise of foreign policy include the destruction of one (admittedly abhorrent and tyrannical) regime and its replacement with a situation of complete anarchy? The result, as we know, has been the abandonment of the people of Libya to the ruthless violence of competing militias, the spread into North Africa of the barbarians of ISIS, and the terrible fate we now now see befalling those trying to leave the social and economic chaos behind them. 
The naivety of contemporary western politicians beggars belief in that, encouraged by an increasingly emotive international mass media, they have repeatedly assumed, in the aftermath of the so-called 'Arab Spring,' that 'democracy' can be fashioned ex nihilo in regions with little or no tradition of the rule of law, respect for the rights of minorities,  an independent judiciary and freedom of speech.

Undoubtedly, the immediate blame for the rising death toll lies with the human traffickers who are exploiting the would-be migrants in their attempts to reach mainland Europe, yet those who had a hand in creating the conditions which have led to this cannot themselves escape a very large share of moral responsibility. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rightly said that we owe a duty of charity to those who are suffering. One might hope that a number of wealthy, oil-rich Islamic states in the Middle East, and their religious leaders, might come forward with similarly compassionate and merciful sentiments and offers of asylum and practical help to their co-religionists.


  1. Much to agree with, Fr Gollop, but what on earth is an "illegal migrant"? These poor souls are trying to cross the Med on dangerous boats. Any concept of "illegality" only arises when they have (1) sought residency in another country, (2) been denied residency, and (3) have decided to stay anyway.

    1. Yes, of course, you are absolutely right - I was quoting in haste; I've now added quotation marks to make the point.


Anonymous comments will not be published