Editorial: We must not turn into Lampedusa
The tragic shipwreck at Farmakonisi, where 12 people including 9 children perished, is not a typical case of unfortunate refugees who drowned in their search for a better future. Since the Greek Coast Guard is involved, we must do everything to shed light on the circumstances that lead to the sinking, just like the UN’s High Commission on Refugees demands.
Irrespective of how burdensome illegal immigration may be in our country, it is our responsibility and duty, as a civilized country, to ensure the basic human right of survival before we consider what to do with them. We cannot allow the sort of unimaginable human sacrifices that are taking place in the Mediterranean, especially in the area around Lampedusa, to occur in our own seas.
It is a tragedy for our culture and the Europe that wants to be an example of humane treatment, to let people who are suffering and trying to find a way out, to literally die helpless, whether it is because the traffickers want a hefty fee to save them or no country is determined to bear the brunt.
Unregulated immigration is a major problem for our country, especially under today’s circumstances. We cannot, however, let helpless people drown in our effort to restrict entry to our country. In the past year and a half, over 130 immigrants have perished in the Aegean in search of so-called safer living conditions.
We must seek out help and support from the UN, Amnesty International and especially the European Union on the one hand to improve the response in search and rescue operations where human lives are at risk and on the other to ensure basic living conditions for as long as they remain in our country and their fate is decided.
It is a matter of culture, respect of human rights and our moral obligation to not allow any “Lampedusa” phenomena in our seas.