Who are the people you are helping?

Who are the people you are helping?
Where they are from?
They’re all economic migrants!
Why are thy leaving their countries?
Why don’t they stay?

Some common questions, answered by team member @Brendan Woodhouse who is currently working in Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy:

“The people we are helping are coming from Africa and Asia. I have personally helped people from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, The Gambia and more. People are coming for a multitude of reasons. Civil wars are raging in various African countries, and forced conscription is common place. Really oppressive regimes in places such as Eritrea see unbelievable horrors. Lawless Somalia and the rise of Boko Haram see vast swathes of people fleeing the sub Sahara.

But it’s not just war and fighting that people are fleeing. I want to talk specifically about economic migrants. Now for me there are two kinds of economic migrants.

Type 1: Many people in England move around for work, and a lot go to London. People in fact travel all over Europe for higher wages and better living conditions. I have no problem with this and think that it’s a right that we should all be able to enjoy. But there is a clear distinction between this kind of economic migrant, and

Type 2: ‘forced economic migration’:
Imagine for a few moments living your life with next to nothing. Imagine every single day of your life being a fight for survival. Opportunity is non existent and prospects for a happy future are just a distant dream. Imagine the daily grind of getting up and working so hard for 14 hours straight, yet barely having enough to eat, earning a pound a day, with no access to health care and a really short life expectancy. Imagine living next to an ever expanding desert where disease and malnourishment are common, yet all the time knowing that some distance away, by a risky journey, there is the chance of a better life. A place where food is thrown away, because there is too much. Where the choice of your meal is dictated by what you feel like eating that day, and not by what you can find. Where your life expectancy doubles and you can offer your family a better future.

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What are you going to do?

Stay or go? Even if you’d stay, would you blame others of trying for a better life?

Sometimes deliberate impoverishment is forced upon people as a way of driving them out. Sometimes governments deliberately ignore areas or regions, and allow serious levels of poverty to flourish. We’ve seen elements of this even in the UK. Just look at the movement of people following the destruction of the mining and ship building industries, thanks to Thatcher. This happens in extreme levels in other parts of the world too. And when this is combined with climate change, the results for the people are catastrophic. This is what I would call ‘forced economic migration’. Where the prospects of a good healthy life are so small, that moving seems to be the only option.

Just to clarify, we work and meet predominantly refugees rather than economic migrants, who are genuinely fleeing war, persecution and death within their own countries.

These are a few of the reasons that people are risking their lives to get onto tightly packed boats that are unseaworthy, and attempting to cross the Mediterranean. War, oppression, and forced economic migration.

Nobody takes this journey lightly.

To get on an unseaworthy boat, risking your life, if must feel like your only choice.

Whatever their reasons are, no one should be forced to face death by drowning as a fucking deterrent to keep them out. Safe passage is a right that all the people in the world should have.

What’s worse is that this is, in my view, only the beginning. Climate change is only really just hitting us. People are already coming from Bangladesh, where the waters are rising, although this isn’t the only reason people are leaving there. There is religious and political persecution too. But such a massively populated country is only just above sea level, and the seas are rising and the rains are worsening. In the future, just imagine how many will be forced to flee due to climate change. In Africa, the deserts are growing and this is creating issues not just for farming and famine, but for control of what’s left. If we’re frightened by the influx of migrants now, we need to deal with climate change, and fast, because we might already be too late…”

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