The deadly journey to Europe
Thousands pay with their lives for the flight from the Middle East
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.