“You broke the ocean in half to get here.
Only to meet nothing that wants you.
By Nayyirah Waheed
Pope Francis has called on Europe and the international community to take a swift and decisive action on the rising number of migrants making desperate and often fatal journeys across the Mediterranean onto the borders of Italy.
Although grateful for the Italian government which has borne the brunt of the rescue efforts, he urged a “broader involvement” whilst speaking after his first official meeting with Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, at the Vatican.
In a statement from the International Organisation for Migration, figures show that more than 1,750 migrants have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. The organisation point out that this is more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014.
Many of the migrants were fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East. EU governments have been blamed by humanitarian organisations over their response. Organisations cite that the humanitarian crisis should be the prime impetus for helping the migrants, rather than Immigration policy which sees governments indifferent in the face of the migrants’ journeying plights.
Earlier this week, Labour Leader Ed Miliband said in a talk at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Brooks Building that if he was Prime Minister, he would be saying “let’s start the search and rescue mission. Would you rather let them [migrants] just die? Britain is better than that. We are better than that”.
An EU spokeswoman said there was no “silver bullet” for the situation.
“It is evident that the proportions of the phenomenon demand much greater involvement. We must not tire in our attempts to solicit a more extensive response at the European and international level”, the Pope said in the meeting.
Mr Mattarella echoed Italy’s call on the EU for a significant intervention “to stop this continuous loss of human life in the Mediterranean”. The President added, “These broken lives compromise the dignity of the international community and we are in danger of losing our humanity”.
Following television personality and columnist Katie Hopkins’ horrific column against migrants, The UN’s human rights chief has attacked both The Sun newspaper and the 40-year old. He brands her use of the word “cockroaches” to describe migrants as reminiscent of anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.
In a biting and extraordinary intervention, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said the word “cockroaches” was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda. He urges the UK government, media and regulators to respect national and international laws on curbing incitement to hatred.
Hopkins wrote: “No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care. These migrants are like cockroaches”.
The column went viral just hours prior to a boat that was packed with migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, with the loss of 800 lives.
Perhaps Nayyirah Waheed’s poem [above] is strikingly apt in light of The Sun newspaper’s insensitive stance on the migrants and their families.
TNT Spiritual Yasin Chinembiri