Should Australia's Boat People Success Determine EU Policy In The Med?
Whatever the Daily Mail tells you, nobody goes through this just for access to UK benefits.
The number of asylum seekers seeking to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean in overcrowded and unsafe boats has reached crisis point, reports of dozens, even hundreds of lives being lost are becoming an all too frequent occurrence. As Europe seeks a solution could it find some guidance in the events in Australia?
Kiwi blogger David Farrar, a notable right-wing commentator, has a post detailing the impact of changes in Australian policy towards asylum seekers arriving by boat over the last eight years. The timing is crucial because it encompasses two significant u-turns in policy when dealing with these events.
In 2007 a hardline policy on turning asylum seekers boats around was abandoned transferring refugees to asylum camps instead, leading to a 10,000% increase in the number of people attempting the journey to Australia. It also resulted in the number of deaths spiking from zero to over four hundred a year at its peak.
In 2013 the policy change was reversed, by last year the number of arrivals had fallen to pre-2007 levels and no deaths were recorded. Lest you think that this identifies Australia as heartless, Farrar points out the Australia has the highest per capita refugee quota in the world.
Could Europe benefit from a similar zero-tolerance policy? Would the number of people attempting the treacherous crossing be significantly reduced if there was no hope of success? I don't believe this to be the case.
Europe will always be an attractive destination for those seeking to escape the crises in their own countries. Attempting to create a fortress with the Mediterranean as its moat is never going to be a solution to the problem. All it does is create a market for unscrupulous people traffickers who are incentivised to thrust as many people as possible into life threatening positions in search of an unattainable dream.