There is some irony that on the day we remember the glorious dead of conflicts around the world that there is a conference in Malta to try and stem the flow of migrants into Europe. On the day that we are to remember those who have fallen defending our way of life, who have been killed so that we can live in freedom, consideration is being given to those fleeing from economic, religious and ethnic persecution or simply trying to get away from one of the many conflicts that still haunt mankind.
What have we learned? What have we remembered? Too quickly mankind is prepared to reach for a weapon and wreak havoc upon his fellow creatures. As time goes by all that seems to change is that our weapons become more sophisticated. Our ability to kill, maim and injure becomes greater, more remote and dare I say easier.
On the news this morning we were told that as many as three quarters of a million people will migrate to Europe this year due to the ongoing war in the Middle-East. At least these are the ones that we know of. The actual number is suspected to be many more and this is an increase on the four hundred thousand of last year. Today there are as many as sixty million people in refugee camps across the world. The population equivalent to the United Kingdom is living in uncertainty, without nationality in no-man’s land. These are frightening figures and a damning indictment of the way the world still is.
Why is there not more outrage? Why are these things allowed to carry on? Why is our focus on stopping people getting across the Mediterranean rather than preventing the cause of their exodus in the first place? After all, do they not just want what we have in the privileged West, peace, the ability to raise a family and to find work?
It was Norman Tebbit, in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference back in 1981 during the reign of Thatcher, who said that ‘I grew up in the 30s with an unemployed father. He didn’t riot; he got on his bike and looked for work and he kept looking ’til he found it.’ What is the difference between getting on your bike and getting in a boat? One we applaud and the other we deplore.
The UK Government is giving another forty or so million to clamp down on people traffickers, those who profit from the needs of others yet this is a free market in action. People with money can buy an opportunity. There is a demand and a willing supply. The focus is on the effect and not the cause.
There will always be bad people who do bad things. There will always be those who take advantage of the misery of others yet this should not stop the good that exists within the majority. Humanity needs to persevere until armed conflict is confined to history.
So on this Armistice Day, I stopped what I was doing at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month not only to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice but also those who are innocent victims of somebody else’ dogma.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning I will remember them.