The number of migrants, many coming from Sub-Sahara Africa, making the dangerous journey through the Mediterranean Sea is at a record high. People fleeing civil conflict, other violence, and poverty are seeking refuge in Europe. Last month, dozens of bodies identified as people from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan have appeared along Libya’s coast, and a boat sank in Tunisia, killing four and causing over twenty people to go missing. The International Organization for Migration reported 441 deaths in the first quarter of 2023, the highest number since 2017.
Despite the risks, African and other migrants continue to travel by boat to European countries, particularly Italy. Rather than responding with compassion, Italy’s far-right government is calling for stricter border control. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni declared a state of emergency to allow the government to deport migrants back to their home country and punish charities that help asylum seekers at sea.
European governments are punishing African and other migrants for fleeing the unlivable conditions that imperialism, largely based in Europe, created. Italy and other NATO members have conducted military operations in Africa that have killed and wounded many and have exacerbated poverty. These imperialists continue to profit from the wars that they start or support to continue their exploitation of the region. Meanwhile, the ongoing climate catastrophe is forcing more and more people from their homes.
The capitalist system, which includes Italy, other European countries, and the U.S., produces the conditions that force people to make dangerous journeys. In a system that prioritizes profits over people, the security of borders is put above the safety of migrants. Stricter borders will not stop “unauthorized” border crossing, but it will increase the number of deaths and missing people. Governments have shown that they are unwilling and unable to provide the support and resources that migrants deserve.
Most migrants are working people from both cities and rural communities, and we must stand together in our common struggle against the ruling elite around the world. We need to fight for a society that welcomes and protects people and treats them with empathy, regardless of national borders. We need a world where all people participate in control of the resources needed to resolve conflicts and make their homes safe.