Migration experts question EU’s humanitarian rhetoric

boat-migrantsI co-signed this letter, along with more than 300 other migration researchers, to interrogate the humanitarian rhetoric used by the EU to justify their migration policies. See the article in the Guardian.

The EU wants to save migrants out of the hands of human smugglers as if they were slave traders.

But this comparison is false, the letter says. “Today, those embarking on the journey to Europe want to move. If they were free to do so, they would be taking advantage of the flights that budget airlines operate between North Africa and Europe at a tiny fraction of the cost of the extraordinarily dangerous sea passage”.

Europe has increasingly closed down its outer borders to prevent migrants from coming in. But people still want to move, so they resort to dangerous journeys in rickety boats.

Destroying these boats is not going to save the migrants who are desperate enough to board them. In the absence of safe ways to travel, migrants will just find other, even more dangerous ways to cross over.

As a researcher, I want to engage in this discussion based on facts and observations, rather than my personal opinions and values. From this position, it is too simple to argue for open borders, which is the conclusion of the open letter. I nevertheless signed the letter to urge politicians to start working on constructive responses rather than spending time and money on false and misleading arguments and inadequate solutions.