Some say Khaddafi kept a lid on immigration to Europe, almost with regret for losing his dictatorship as an influence on the world. I met some Sudanese refugees who had made it to Malta in the days of Khaddafi. Rumours of how it was done in Libya in those days were as follows. When the numbers of immigrants increased above a certain level, the colonel would order to put them on buses and drive into the Sahara. Many miles away from the next bus-stop or water-point, they were told to get out: “Now you walk home.”
It was perhaps more convenient to have them buried in the desert, than having them drown in the Mediterranean where we can see them from main-land Europe. Allowing smugglers free play was part of Khaddafi's revenge on Europe at he end of his reign.
About 0.7% of the GNP of my country is spent on development aid and many voices say that this is too much, because we have our own crisis. We’d rather invest in our own development than send millions overseas to help others. However, learning to respect basic human rights is also about our own development. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not only about personal rights, but also about our collective duty to stand up for those who have difficulty in taking ownership of their rights.
Article 3 points out the right to life, liberty and personal security. That means once you have life, liberty and security, you cannot look away from those who have none of that. Article 14 talks about the right to asylum if you aren’t safe in your own country. That means everyone has a right to run away from war zones, to a safe place with food, hygiene and education for the children. That is a lot more than simply stopping shaggy boats from crossing the Mediterranean.
Article 24 of the Human Rights Declaration states a right to rest and leisure. In other words, a right to play. The declaration was created by the UN in 1948, not long after the Second World War. Since then play has taken a whole new meaning and we spend billions developing and enjoying play. Is it strange that so-called economical immigrants wish to have a taste of this wealth, because where they come from work literally serves to bring bread to the table and nothing else. Don’t we have a responsibility to also let others play?
I believe the light is where we learn to share and play together, as children do. We need to grow down.