Gruesome reports from Europe – of people drowning as their rickety boats capsize in unforgiving waters, of migrants detained in squalid camps and even summarily executed on the high seas – have hit the headlines with predictable regularity in recent years.
These tragic incidents have a long history. What has changed is the exceptional scale of the migration across the Mediterranean sea. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that some 30,400 migrants had arrived in Greece by just May this year, compared to 34,000 in all of 2014.
From the beginning of the crisis it was clear to all except European governments that patrolling the Mediterranean and blocking the Channel Tunnel would fail; the land routes, railway networks, and pre-dawn single-queue processions have made these redundant. Government nitpicking about categories such as refugee, asylum seeker, economic migrant, illegal immigrant; deploying FRONTEX (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) to apprehend alien intruders, and planning cordon after cordon to make Europe a protected place – have all been overrun by the crowd of what can only be described as refugees.