Desperate people are swarming out of Africa and struggling to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe — many are dying in the hazardous crossing. The Italians have been over-extended, trying to rescue these people, and now the UK has decided not to support search and rescue operations in the area.
The British refusal comes as the official Italian sea and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, is due to end this week after contributing over the past 12 months to the rescue of an estimated 150,000 people since the Lampedusa tragedies in which 500 migrants died in October 2013.
The Italian operation will now end without a similar European search and rescue operation to replace it. The Italian authorities have said their operation, which involves a significant part of the Italian navy, is unsustainable. Despite its best efforts, more than 2,500 people are known to have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean since the start of the year.
This is tragic. These are human beings — desperate, ambitious human beings who aspire to a better life. Yet apparently some people want to treat them as cockroaches.