The deadly jour­ney to Europe

Thou­sands pay with their lives for the flight from the Mid­dle East

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Illegal immigration isn’t only an Amer­i­can dilemma. Europe is be­sieged by hu­man waves of refugees flee­ing war and de­pri­va­tion in the Mid­dle East and Africa. Hun­dreds of thou­sands at­tempt to sneak into pros­per­ous Euro­pean coun­tries in the back of cargo trucks and in the holds of leaky cargo ships. Hun­dreds are dy­ing. As the body count climbs, Europe is con­fronted with a hu­man tragedy that it can no longer ig­nore. What will Europe do about it? What can Europe do about it?

Un­til now the Euro­peans have been con­tent to leave the woes of the Mid­dle East to the United States: “Since the Amer­i­cans broke it, with war in Iraq, they should fix it.” The re­gion has been in a state of in­ter­mit­tent chaos since bib­li­cal times, but the rise of the Is­lamic State and its quest of a caliphate of evil has un­leashed a cam­paign of eth­nic cleans­ing de­signed to ex­ter­mi­nate Jews, Chris­tians and other mi­nor­ity faiths.

Fam­i­lies by the thou­sands put their lives in the hands of avari­cious hu­man smug­glers who trans­port them un­der in­hu­man con­di­tions by land and sea, aban­don­ing them when con­ve­nience de­mands. Such was the fate of 71 Syr­ian men, women and chil­dren who were dis­cov­ered dead of suf­fo­ca­tion in an aban­doned freezer truck along a high­way in eastern Aus­tria last week. Libyans pulled more than a hun­dred bod­ies from the Mediter­ranean Sea, where they drowned when their over­crowded boat sank on a voy­age to Europe. Another hun­dred are miss­ing and pre­sumed lost. In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent dozens died of car­bon monox­ide from en­gine fumes in the hold of an over­crowded boat.

More than 2,600 have been lost at sea out of an es­ti­mated 300,000 im­mi­grants who have tried to cross the Mediter­ranean al­ready this year, ri­val­ing the num­bers who have flooded across the south­ern bor­der of the United States. There is a dif­fer­ence, though. Il­le­gals cross­ing into the United States come pri­mar­ily in search of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity, those try­ing to get into Europe are flee­ing for their lives. With ISIS sub­ject­ing “in­fi­dels” to mass be­head­ings, fir­ing squads and cru­ci­fix­ions, des­per­a­tion drives the ex­o­dus. Syria has lost more than half of its Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion dur­ing the four-year civil war.

Euro­peans are re­spond­ing in a va­ri­ety of ways: Hungary is string­ing ra­zor wire along its bor­der with Ser­bia to dis­cour­age il­le­gals. Some of the smug­glers have been ar­rested in Aus­tria and Italy, but hand­cuffs are no more likely than hand-wring­ing to stem the hu­man tide. Only an­gry waves hold back the flotil­las chal­leng­ing the Mediter­ranean. “There are thou­sands and thou­sands of dead ly­ing in the Mediter­ranean whose bod­ies will never be found and no one is pay­ing at­ten­tion,” the mayor of Palermo tells the Lon­don Daily Mail.

U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon has set an emer­gency sum­mit on Sept. 30 dur­ing the ses­sion of the Gen­eral Assem­bly to deal with Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis. It won’t mat­ter much if the sum­mit stretches over 30 days or 30 years. The cause of the tragedy lies in Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, and tragedy is likely to con­tinue un­til evil men with guns are dis­patched by right­eous men with big­ger guns. If the past is a guide, the Euro­peans will hang back to let the Amer­i­cans do it.

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