Not knowing quite what to write about after my last visit to the ‘illegal’ Migrant population in Calais, I posted a short tweet on twitter: It goes like this:
Starting a debate on employing “Irregular Migrants” on Europe’s borders and in Detention Centres 2 help clean Europe of #litter #usefulwork
The hashtag mark of usefulwork was put because cleaning Europe of litter, in my opinion, is very useful work.
I have received one reply so far…and that has given ample energy for me to formulate some words about that last visit.
The reply to my tweet centres on the word ‘slavery’ and it astounded me! But twitter and social media allow for freedom of expression, so I accept that although I am shocked at their response, this is someone’s interpretation to my 140 character sentence.
Europe is strewn with litter. Most people I am sure need not be informed by me. They know it already. We fight an ongoing problem. We spend billions of Euros on attempting to clean it all up.
Europe has a very bad immigration problem. We have thousands arriving at our borders. Those that are caught can be held for months, in often very bad conditions, in detention centres, in holding centres and in prisons from Spain to Greece, to France, the UK, the Netherlands. All over Europe.
Granted, if conditions in their home countries were far better, for many there would be no need to take on dangerous journeys to seek safer and better lives.
I am not a politician, an intellect or an historian, so in turn many of the reasons behind such migration practices are lost on me. But what I do know is that there are thousands, tens of thousands, sorry hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering in Europe perhaps nearly as badly, and in some case worse than they were before they set off on these drastic pilgrimages.
We have desperate people attaching themselves to the under carriages of lorries in Calais, their intended destination being the UK. We have desperate people clambering over five metre barbed wire fences into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. We have desperate people taking overcrowded sea crossings from Turkey to Greece, and also smaller water crossings across the river Evros between the same two countries. The sea crossings from Tunisia and Libya, again, the human ‘statistics’ have been reported all year long.
The majority of these people are fleeing horror of one horrible kind or another…and then they face an immigration system that again holds them in fear. Are we responsible for these people? In my opinion, no, we are not responsible for other people’s lives, other people’s wars, other people’s poverty, (although through our group actions we may well have played a part in the creation of these horrors). But we do have the ability to assist. We have the ability to assist in attempting to help make the lives of these people better.
Europe has its own problems and we have to deal with these too. Responsibility starts with oneself, and if we haven’t sorted ourselves out yet, how can we help another?
But amongst our own problems, surely we can create enough space, time and energy to start giving hope to a body of people that simply need help, a reassurance that someone does care, that there is the possibility that in time, life can get better.
Setting up a professional business to clean up the litter in Europe, (granting that the money would appear) would allow for quite a lot of employment. There is litter on our streets, in our rivers, in our parks, on our motorways, pathways, oceans and beaches, and for me the business model centres on our beaches, the moment before the litter enters perhaps the most difficult place to be retrieved from, our oceans. Motorways and highways, until better practice is put into place are best cleaned by the Authorities, and in my opinion so to are the rivers, parkways and streets.
Beaches in the main are out of the way, and by paying particular attention to weather, waves and tides, safety can be kept to the maximum.
We can find the best areas to clean first. We can set up an excellent game plan. We could work with the European Union, with Governments, with NGO’s, Charities and Think Tanks. Whilst not attempting to encourage illegal migration we could ‘temporarily’ set up a system for cleaning Europe of its litter, beaches first, and attempt to include the people who we term ‘illegal migrants’ into this project.
Slavery? In my opinion, no way. People in detention centres, prisons and holding centres could be given the option of applying for a post that would get them out in the fresh air, give them temporary work visas, accommodation, a decent wage, food on the table, and hope for a future.
“Europe needs cleaning. People need lives”. Six words that make sense to me. I’ve started a debate. Please join in if you wish too. Meanwhile I will get on with the project. I will soon know if it has legs. Thank you.