71 migrant bodies recovered from truck in Europe

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70 people in that tiny space… the horror of it is overwhelming.


I would think there are different kinds of trafficking, no? I’m not very expert on the subject, but isn’t there a distinction between pimping and coyote-ing?


Flagging the common but incorrect use of the term “migrants” for Syrian refugees. It’s not semantic games: refugees have specific rights defined by treaty, which many European states are trying hard to forget about. Insisting that these people are, like, looking for farm work, instead of fleeing war and political repression is a purposeful bit of misdirection by EU’s political class.


For German-aware readers, the article “Alles wieder gut: Österreich versenkt Lastwagen mit 71 toten Flüchtlingen im Mittelmeer” on the satirical “The Onion”-like website “Der Postillon” holds a mirror up to us all :pensive:.


One could argue that a refugee would claim asylum at the first safe opportunity; there are no ‘refugees’ at Calais attempting to reach the UK, then, as they were entirely able to claim asylum wherever they first entered the EU. Likewise, people attempting to cross from Hungary to Austria are migrating.

That’s grossly oversimplifying, of course, and really, really shouldn’t be taken as the slightest condemnation of people wanting to find a better life in a country of their choice - but I’d reserve the name ‘refugees’ for those so desperate as to seek refuge wherever they can, not where they choose.

Personally, I think it’s useful to observe that distinction: true refugees should be given all the assistance possible, unquestionably. Economic migrants… less automatically.

Austria has recently been criticised by Amnesty International for the “shameful” conditions of its refugee camp Traiskirchen. The most popular single at the moment is a minute of silence to draw attention to the refugee crisis.

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If these people died en route, how the devil could they ask anyone for asylum?

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Is it suggested that the truck travelled directly from inside Syria, without stopping?

Again: I really don’t blame these people for trying to find a better life elsewhere, but my point was that a ‘refugee’ would seek refuge at the very first safe opportunity - immediately after crossing the Syrian border, even. It seems these people got into the vehicle in a ‘safe’ country (just not the one they wanted to end up in). I’d therefore call them ‘migrants’ - and think no less of them for it.

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Per 1951 UN Convention on Status of Refugees, you don’t stop being a refugee because you relocate. The convention drafters, having lived through WWII, anticipated that the localities immediately adjacent to conflict zones will have available resources exhausted causing people to scatter in search of food and safety.

The 1951 Convention protects refugees.
It defines a refugee as a person who
is outside his or her country of nationality
or habitual residence; has a
well-founded fear of being persecuted
because of his or her race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular
social group or political opinion; and
is unable or unwilling to avail him—
or herself of the protection of that
country, or to return there, for fear
of persecution (see Article 1A(2)).
People who fulfill this definition
are entitled to the rights and bound
by the duties contained in the 1951



Okay; that’s a definition I wasn’t aware of - thanks - but it’s a bit of an oversimplification of how it works in practice :wink:

It makes sense that a refugee crisis would require immediately-neighbouring states to pass on refugees to not-immediately-neighbouring states (I understand that process of allocation and ‘quotas’ is currently being argued within the EU), but that’s ultimately a matter between governments, not one of individuals’ choice of destination.

If ‘refugees’ had the inherent right of free movement to their preferred destination, they wouldn’t need to do it covertly - rather than have to find illicit means of crossing from Hungary to Austria, these people would have been able to just walk across (again: wild oversimplification, but you get the idea).

Likewise with the migrants at Calais: if they were ‘refugees’, desperate for sanctuary wherever they can find it, they’d be able to either claim asylum in France or, if the UN Convention really worked that way, freely cross to the UK and claim asylum there. That’s not the case.

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The UK is not meeting its responsibilities with regard to refugees. Considering its part in the destabilisation of the region, it’s disturbing to see the government wash their hands of the refugee crisis so willingly. On a recent visit to the UK, I was surprised to see the exaggerated claims of being swamped by migrants, when they only accept a small fraction of the numbers that other countries do. There are a number of reasons why people would choose to attempt a dangerous journey in a crowded, sealed container with such a high risk of fatality. None of these include wanting to go from a good situation to a better one. In the case of this truck, there are a number of racist and anti-Muslim elements in addition to the inhumane conditions of the refugee centres that would encourage people to choose leave a supposedly safe area in search of another one.

I know an Iranian family that entered the UK last year in a truck from Calais; they had a gps system with them and stayed until they reached Cambridge, then started banging on the walls to alert the police. They are an educated, professional couple with a talented son who is currently taking his grade 7 violin exams at age 10. They had to leave Iran because of religious persecution, and they came to the UK because they already spoke English and wanted to find somewhere safe to settle. They would still be in Iran if the father didn’t keep getting arrested for his beliefs, and they shouldn’t have to put their life on hold until their country is safe for them again. In their case and in the case of many people that I meet in Hamburg, they are fleeing a very dangerous situation that may well have claimed the lives of family members and friends in their home country, but they are looking to be peaceful and productive members of the society in which they live now. Treating them with fear and expecting them to be satisfied with antagonistic and unsafe environments and chronically overcrowded refugee centres (or sometimes nothing at all) in their country of arrival is not realistic. Europe has to face this issue together and the UK has to pull its weight.

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International refugee law is grossly inadequate for these kinds of situations; first, many of the “first safe opportunity” countries do not uphold their responsibilities under intenrtiaonal law, and turn people away, deport them or jail them (US included). There are reasons for this, mostly the expense and capacity to absorb large numbers of refugees. Also, many of these countries are in the zone of conflict, which complicates the situation in any number of ways. Second, the international community does little to alleviate these problems, providing little funding for the countries flooded by refugees, and acting in concert to keep them within the borders of the host country. It’s a situation that happens every time there is a significant regional conflict and yet every time, the international community acts as if this is something we’ve never seen before and dont know how to deal with. We need to make significant changes to how refugees are treated internationally, have ways of helping countries that are overwhelmed by migrations, and hold countries accountable when hey don’t meet their obligations under international law.

You already know what to expect, but it’s kind of funny to read the comments about this kind of thing on the Daily Mail:


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