A Tale of Two Ships: How Europe welcomes Refugees

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus (engraved on a plaque inside the Statute of Liberty)

Last weekend, a few people on a boat experienced a sudden problem while they were sailing in the Tyrrhenian Sea, west of mainland Italy. Their cruise ship “Costa Concordia” ran aground, listed and partially sank.

More than 4,000 people had to be evacuated to the close Italian island of Giglio. There and on the Italian mainland, they were welcomed by the rescue services and quickly housed by local communities and residents in schools, hotels and churches.

A warm welcome, an organised response, helpfulness, everything provided for: shelter, blankets, food, medical attention. The whole community, actually the whole country, stood behind the rescue.

How different the passengers of a different boat must have felt, even though they also arrived in Italy, namely on the island of Lampedusa:

Lesson learnt: If you want to come to Europe, try to look as white as possible. It makes for a much warmer welcome than if you are black.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Europe, Human Rights, Immigration Law, Italy, Politics, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A Tale of Two Ships: How Europe welcomes Refugees

  1. Gilberto Arredondo says:

    You have over simplified an extremely complex issue into a matter of colour, which it is not, and compared two incidents, whose only simililarity is a boat, as if they were like-for-like situations. Fun I suppose, a clever comment on Europe perhaps, but I think shows a lack of experience with or willful avoidance of the immigrant situation, especially from a Mediteranean perspective, and more importantly given your new home, a Maltese perspective. Touchy subject I know, but understanding the Maltese perspective will mean dropping political correctness while digging into the reality of immigrants and their impact on Malta at the ground level.

    • Stefan MD says:

      I agree with Gilberto Andreas, I would take this post with a pinch of salt, but if you are serious, you should try comparing like with like – try comparing the treatment of the first ever african refugee ship landing in modern times with the Costa incident, rather than the 2000th one, you’d see a marked difference in treatment.

    • I am fully aware of the over-simplification by comparing two scenarios which are quite different in cause, effect, legal status and so on.
      But sometimes it is helpful for a debate to look at the simplest possible fact: that humans have equal value, and that it is only coincidence where we are born.

    • John says:

      Have you ever considered that there were dark skinned people on the Concordia ? Do you think that the rescuers discarded them to help the light skinned people first?

      No passenger on the Cruise ship arrived illegally in Italy (they all had passports and permission to get on Italy’s soil. (that`s were the boat left from).

  2. Lillian Smith says:

    If you are so keen on the refugees, why are you not in Africa helping them out. Europe has enough problems as it is, and Africa has a lot of resources, which unfortunately, White men (and now Chinese ones too) want to get their hands on. Do not be like Capt. Schettino and go down there and get your hands dirty, if you really hold refugees in such a high esteem.

    • 1. I might do that next.
      2. I don’t think Europe has any real problems for the most part.

    • Nemesis says:

      Have you seen an old Italian documentary called “Africa Addio”? You certainly should. Have you ever been in South Chicago, near the University ? No? You have to…

  3. for welcomeing I dont think so you need be white in europe.specialy blacks are more welcome in europe!!! most of them lazy to work and comeing as a refugee only useing social service which citizens paying tax for that and in fact they useing all of service for free and all the time crying they like to work but europe is racist that’s why is not any job for them. I’m not europian I emigrated as well .but I study in europe and work hard even many times I feel for employment they prefer a europian but i never give up for trying so I’m disagree by refugees.it s abusing rest of people

    and one more thing : you can’t compare these 2 ships.they have diffrent story!

  4. Gilberto says:

    Much appreciate the blog and let’s be clear, I’ll debate the issues but draw the line at attacking the person. Too often debate in Malta shift immediately to the person, especially if they’re not Maltese and the knee-jerk reaction is to (a) tell you to leave, (b) ask you why you don’t leave, (c) tell you that you have no right to a Malta oriented opinion. One angle of your blog comment debate could be to remind people of this, but I suppose from the comments on Times of Malta its fairly certain that this will always be the case. Keep writing, I admire your blog.

  5. Jesmond Micallef says:

    This big boat sailed too close to land. There have been other boats which never made it that close, and the only evidence of that were the bodies found on the beaches !!

  6. As an American, where our ugly history of slavery and ongoing issues of racial discrimination are big, messy, public topics of discussion and debate, it is interesting to me to watch some of the issues surrounding race that are coming to the forefront in Europe as increasing numbers of Africans and Middle Easterners arrive.

    • Jesmond Micallef says:

      I agree with you as far as your reference to the domestic cancer of racial inequality that unfortunately continues to prevail in the United States of America. Your current US President, Mr. Barack Obama is an unquestionable sign of success but also of progress in this regard. All American people, but not just, should respect that, really. Mind you, slavery has European roots too and is neither innocent in this regard. Even more so when one considers Europe’s colonial history across the world.

      May Peace, Prosperity, Freindship and Love reign across the world !

    • Gilberto says:

      I voted for Obama, I’m a supporter, will vote for him again this year, but facts are that Obama’s immigration policies have deported more people last year than Bush did in any year he was in office. Obama is NOT a shining example of immigration reform, that’s just record. This example of African immigration to Europe is not comparable to slavery, its more comparable to Mexican immigration into the USA if you want to bring the US into it. When you compare these two situations you’re in like-for-like territory and the debate makes sense. Comparing slavery and current day Africa immigration into Europe isn’t going to go anywhere. Then you have the differences as well, American’s in general aren’t well informed and the backlash against Mexican’s is based more on what they see and hear via media than real day-to-day experience, while the well-informed European backlash is based on daily experiences with immigrants. Unfortunately, in Lampedusa, Malta, and Europe in general those face-to-face experiences don’t go so well. If you want to talk strictly about racial biases, then the vague realm of the topic makes any discussion difficult. Yes, its there, but then you need to have a realistic willingness to dig into the “why”, seat belts required.

  7. Thank you Andreas ! I agree !
    Their excuse is that the Africans left illegally, which they say out of ignorance. How can running away to save your life be illegal? International refugee law does now see this as illegal!

    • John says:

      How can stealing for food be illegal? Would you like it if you are robbed every day so that other people can eat with your money?

  8. Louis Gialanze says:

    If you are a lawyer worth your salt you would have distinguished between people in transit and illegal immigrants who come into Europe UNINVITED.
    As a matter of fact, Malta has no qualms with saving lives at sea, however keeping the aliens on this island against their very own wishes is forced upon us by the EU. This measure, which enjoys the tacit support of our leaders who betrayed our trust in the first place, is nothing short of mongrelization by stealth.
    I hope you find the time to read your compatriot’s book titled “Deutschland Schaft sich ab” by Thilo Sarazzin. Herr Moser what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
    Meantime may I wish you every success in your search of an identity!

    • As a lawyer, I can of course distinguish between the two scenarios.
      But my point is that the legal perspective is an arbitrary, man-made one, when a human being is a human being is a human being. Without any need for distinction, especially not when they are in need.
      If you wish, my argument and my thinking is at times not only not legalistic, but anti-legalistic.

    • Gilberto says:

      A human being is a human being is a human being. Agreed. And human beings from the Mediterranean are not all that happy with the interaction experiences they have with human beings from Africa. Their point of views are reinforced by the behaviour of a few (or the many?). The separation of outright racism and a desire to not repeat a past negative interaction are two different reasons for much of what’s discussed. When a few (or the many) create those negative impressions, there’s not chance for a second first impression.

    • Lillian Smith says:

      Gilberto, a human being is a human being, but hundreds of human beings makes an awful crowded place. I find that the issue of refugees and illegal immigration is being given a racial twist when in the case of Malta it is more of a pragmatic concern for serious lack of space.

      And I will not go into the merits of ‘multiculturalism’ and why the West has been sold this bill of goods, but somewhere, someone is benefitting from it and it is not the tax paying citizen on any continent by any means. But that is a whole different can of worms.

    • Gilberto says:

      Not sure how the wires go crossed on this one, but you and I agree. In my last post I was making the point that African’s are facing what they are today in Malta (and the Mediterranean) because of how they behave once here. There are many more reasons, but my point is made.

    • Gilberto says:

      Ouch Louis, the man has opinions, he’s making points, he’s blogging. Show some class, attack the issues, not the person.

  9. Brig Antes says:

    Forced multiculturalism is a tool of the political left. The plight of these poor Africans can be firmly laid at the door of European politicians and media people.There is more to mass immigration than people fleeing from tyranny.This is just one way the political left implant guilt in the minds of Europeans making it easier for them to succumb to the marxist agenda.More and more people are losing sympathy with these ‘boat people’ simply because they are waking up to the political reality. Europeans are being displaced in their own countries and have become second class citizens.Add this to the severe financial meltddown in Europe and civil strife is not too far away. The political left will have a lot of answering to do and the do gooders will be silenced.

    • And how does the “political left” in your opinion manage to put Libyans and Eritreans on boats if these people wouldn’t otherwise want to escape tyranny and poverty?

    • John says:

      By creating poverty and tyranny themselves maybe? See why Africa, having all the resources one can imagine available, is still poor… and why the African nations got poor in the first place.

    • “Europeans are being displaced in their own countries and have become second class citizens.”
      Could you provide any examples for this happening? I have never experienced or seen this in any European country.

  10. Lillian Smith says:

    While I agree totally with you that Multiculturalism is a political tool and that is why it is being forced down Europe’s throat, I see it as a tool of the Neo-Fascist Right.

    Let me explain. While on the surface it appears that this is a Socialist, Liberal or Marxist ideal, the reality of Multiculturalism benefits only one class – the corporate wealthy elite. (Remember, the Right has a history of doing bad things then blaming the Leftist Commies for them, such as killing of Italy’s Aldo Moro).

    Add this to the fact that Multiculturalism in Europe has been introduced/or strengthened under the watch of Christian Democrats (a Rightist party) or their equivalent in different countries. In fact at present, Europe is predominantly Right-wing governed (and so is North America and most of South America). Even PM Blair of the UK was a Rightist, despite having won the election under the Labour banner (in short, all the major political parties in the world are Right-wing, the Left having been co-opted a long time ago. Proof of this is that there is little or no marked differences in policies and agendas.

    And how does Multiculturalism benefit Corporations and the wealthy Elite?

    Follow the money. Even if they are on welfare, refugees need to be housed, fed and clothed. The tax money they get in welfare payments goes to the chain stores and your tax money pays for their housing. The net result is the same, your tax dollar/euro is being taken from the tax paying citizen and is being ‘laundered’ through the system that refugees and immigrants provide until it lands in the bank accounts of Corporate shareholders (Wal-Mart does not care whether its customers pay for their purchases by working or by receiving a tax funded welfare cheque).

    Seeing some of the effects that Multiculturalism has had:

    • The introduction of Gag laws and political correctness legislation to stifle frees speech and silence those that are raising the alarm.
    • Swell the labour markets by a constant influx of immigrants and undercut wages (to the benefit of the industrialist and corporate powers) and undermines the power of Labour Unions.

    • Introduces different cultures and even antagonist religions into the midst, thereby diffusing the attention of people away from government, which can and does pass legislation curbing their freedoms and giving more power into the hands of the private sector.

    • Introduces the principle of chaos – or the divide and rule philosophy that served empires so well. People can now be afraid of their neighbours, with a greater likelihood of riots, thus giving the Police more and ever increasing powers.

    • Gave rise to “Big Brother’ because of the threat of terrorism. Ordinary citizens will give up their rights in exchange for perceived greater protection.

    • Religion has come back to the forefront, both fundamentalist Christianity and Islam.

    One has to come to the conclusion that the kind of State that “Multiculturalism’ favours and creates has all the hallmarks of fascism – an amalgam of Church, Corporations and Government – united against the genuine interests of the nation and its citizens.

    And this is certainly not “Leftist” in the traditional sense of power to the working classes.

  11. Lillian Smith says:

    This is what you can expect from Multiculturalism. White Christian Europeans are reproducing at 1.6 rate below the rate for sustaining their present numbers. The immigrants coming in (mostly from Islamic nations who reproduce prodigiously and have polygamous marriages). It is not unheard of for one woman to have 10 kids and one husband to have more than one wife, so one immigrant man of the Islamic persuasion can easily produce 30 children. Add to that the fact that population expands exponentially not linearly, it would be easy to see how in a fifty-year span the population could shift to be majority Africans (North and South) and in one hundred years European Caucasians could be a tiny minority.

    So Anderas do not insult your own intelligence by stating that ‘you have never seen or experienced it in any European country”.

    • How does it displace me as a European or make me a second-class citizen just because somebody else has more kids? I don’t even want to have any children.

      By the way, there are also many immigrants who do not have 10 children. In fact, I think almost none of them have 10 children. Also, all the immigrant men I know have between 0 and 1 wives, not more. Polygamy is not legal in any European country, irrespective of where people come from.
      Population growth is also not always exponentially, because reproduction rates can change dramatically over just one generation. They are already slowing down in most parts of the world. The population in Germany would have been declining for years, were it not for immigrants.

    • Lillian Smith says:

      Andreas you do not care because you do not have any kids, so what happens after you die will not affect your non-existing descendants. Fair enough. But other people who have children care and if they don’t they should.

      The only people who think like that are priests and Jesuits, who are always shilling for the Status Quo, which in this case for the Neo-Con (i.e. the modern descendants of the Nazis). If you have any doubts, why is the EU always in favour of the Palestinians and always against Israel? Why are we not seeing Europe standing up for the Christian Copts or Iraqi Christians or the Christians in Nigeria?

      However, population growth is a scary thing. There are 7 billion of our species and growing and the majority of this growth is from third world countries. I can tell you for a fact that these Islamist refugees all have multiply wives. I have friends who work within the Family Court system and welfare departments and they are sick of seeing these scams. But everyone is afraid to open their mouths because of ‘Political Correctness’ and because they could lose their jobs. It is a well know fact amongst these civil servants that these immigrants all have many children supported by tax payer’ money and they all bring in their extra wives disguised as relatives. The women all have one baby a year and they then all apply for welfare as single mothers and the husband is also on welfare but then drives a cash only taxi, money which is not declared. This is a widespread practice and is going on with the tacit approval of our politicos. Why?

      “The population in Germany would have been declining for years if it was not for immigrants” – so then you agree that immigrants are taking your place. And this is the reason my dear fellow that in Germany the retirement age has been pushed up to 67+ and pretty soon you will have to be 80 to retire and get a miserly pension. Your government forgot to mention that they have spent all the money in your pension fund to fund housing and social assistance to the immigrants and their children. (But that is OK just as long as they spend their welfare cheques and make the rich corporations mega billions in profits).

      And what is so bad about a small population? There would be more land and goods to go around, wages would increase and animals would have a habitat and the earth would have less pollution. A small world population only scares the Industrial Elite, since they need the slaves to both work in their low paying jobs and buy the crappy overpriced goods they produce. A nice arrangement indeed. (And of course do not forget the official religions who also want a big population to increase their market shares).

  12. eric says:

    Andreas Moser, yes Europeans are becoming second class citizens in their own countries thanks to the way some areas are being dominated by migrants who do not want to integrate. Ask the people of Goteborg and one notorious district which has become a no-go area. But I do not need to go far from there. I myself can tell you about a long list of grievances committed by African refugees and illegal immigrants at Marsa over the years. Marsa is a small but important port suburb close to Valletta capital city of Malta. Refugees and asylum cheats starting coming in 2002. They were few and this working class rather rundown locality now full of ageing people accepted them and helped them. Then the influx increased at the nearby open centre and the trouble started with drunken fights, rape attempts, urinating in public, arrogant behaviour towards the locals and things really got to a head. There were protests to the authorities, ministers etc and the situation only because the population became really vigilant and eventual stricter police action followed. After a few really despicable acts, things have quietened down. I hope it is not because of the weather. However, we simply do not want them at Marsa given seven years of nasty experiences. Those who are refugees should behave as refugees and the NGOS who supported them have never ever uttered a single word about these aggravations. It is such situations which leads to resentment, anger, hatred and at the end, though i hate to say it, even racism. Half of these asylum seekers are just illegal economic migrants who try to cheat their way in. They are scoundrels and are stealing from our scant resources and other refugees too. This may explain why no one, I repeat, no one wants such a situation to continue!! Uncontrolled illegal immigration can end up destabilising whole communities and regions. Uncontrolled migration caused many conflicts in Europe over the years and that is why now everyone has suddenly realised the need of better border controls, and more rigorous asylum policies which should those who really deserve it and punish those who try to abuse it.

    • “Uncontrolled migration caused many conflicts in Europe over the years”
      Which conflicts were caused by migration? It seems to me that it’s rather conflicts that have caused the migration, as people try to flee persecution, civil war and war.

  13. eric says:

    Oh yes Andreas, let me give you a few examples starting from your own native country back in the 3rd century AD. The Germanic tribes started migrating southwards because of the very cold spells which wreaked havoc in their agriculture. That was one of the reasons which caused friction between these tribes and the Romans and eventually led to the changes in northern Italy. The Lombards are a Germanic race after all and are the products of people who forced themselves in because they were large in numbers, and militarily stronger than the ailing decadent Roman Empire at the time. So, to be politically correct (a word I hate to use) Bossi and co. should not really complain about illegal immigrants because they too are the product of a race that forced itself on the indigenous population then. and what about Britain? It too saw huge migrations of Germanic tribes who were utterly unwelcome to the Celts and the Brits. This was a pattern that repeated itself in many countries across Europe and I feel it was also a main reason for the Dark Ages and the constant wars that crippled Europe and left it so backward in terms of innovation for years on end. In recent years, forced migrations almost altered the populations of Estonia and Latvia. OK we no longer have the likes of Hitler and Stalin doing these forms of social engineering but now, a mixture of conflict and economics are leading to migration. I reiterate that laws, and in this case, EU laws should make it easier and be a guideline of compassion and improvement to those who really deserve asylum, it must be stricter with those who aren’t and reside illegally doing illegal jobs and cheating their way through welfare. Moreover, integration demands respect to the country’s traditions and not imposing oneself on others, as is the classic and dangerous case of the burqa. Do you recall the case of the Somali scoundrel who in addition to having received asylum in the UK turned to crime, formed part of a gang and ended up murdering an Asian legal migrant on Good Friday and then ended up escaping the UK into Germany and then back to Africa, wearing his sister’s burqa!? is this what we want to see? Is this going to be the reason for a massive increase towards the far-right especially among disenchanted unemployed who will probably view illegal immigration as one of these causes? Is this going to bring another Hitler? I shudder even thinking about it! But if we do not want to see a repeat of this scenario, let us all work to stop abuses in illegal residence as well as the abuse and arrogance from those who should know better. Make no mistake, the majority of EU residents are extremely fed up with illegal immigration! And this explains why even Denmark now President of the EU has also finally realised the need of stricter measures to combat this situation. And well, what about the gangs of Somalis, Albanians, etc causing trouble in London and East England? I understand why you didn’t realise this issue Andrea, because in Germany and Austria, refugees are dispersed throughout various cities so as to avoid their agglomeration and help their integration. Besides, the authorities rightfully scan and check identities so as to ensure that potential troubles are kept at a minimum. And even that did not prevent (sadly) the resurgence of the far-right. But of course, that is another story.

    • Interestingly, what the Germanics and Lombards did was in no way illegal immigration because there were no laws against immigration. The concept of state, territory, borders and citizenship were completely different from now, and it was seen as a normal thing that people moved around freely.

  14. eric says:

    but then there was always natural law….and the fact that the indigenous peoples resented these invaders brought about countless wars…there wasn’t much freedom of movement as one may think then. It was actually even worse because soon afterwards Italy and Germany ended up fragmented in states and even city-states with long, drawn-out bitter wars between themselves over territories and jurisdiction. The concept of citizenship was established as a means to erase such conflict and the concept of rights and obligations to the state was eventually developed from the Greek and Roman Schools of thought in the Renaissance, as I am sure you can well explain. After all, the Renaissance sought to go back to those more civilised times as a means to curtail those barbaric invasions and wars. And of course, in Germany it was Bismarck who did so much to define German identity within a delineated German space without any more further expansion, as he was aware of the consequences of such conflicts. Sadly, other young Junkers and Kaiser Wilhelm thought otherwise and thought that they could continue with their expansionist policies (liebensraum) which brought about disaster to Europe and eventually to Germany itself. I am pretty sure that had Bismarck lived now, he would have not wanted any expansionist policies but he would have likewise hit out really hard against illegal immigration. He was THE great German leader ever, with Brandt and Adenauer coming as a close second given the different circumstances.

  15. eric says:

    and of course, Erich Honecker was the worst ever German leader after Hitler probably even worse because at least Hitler brought economic recovery even if he and his cronies killed millions…Honecker and his cronies killed hundreds of their own citizens and only brought a very artificial economy which collapsed after just a couple of decades. Hope you will not feel offended but I tend to speak the truth and in truth, I really love Germany, its straightforward, reserved but kind attitude deep down inside…and of course, its near-impeccable sense of organisation. i’ve visited your country six times (East Germany four times, even during Honecker’s reign by the way)
    now, I am digressing….

    • So you think “economic recovery” is good if it is brought about by stealing it from the part of the population that will subsequently be killed and then by invading all neighbouring countries to exploit and enslave them?

      There was no “economic recovery” under the Nazis, there was the complete destruction of a whole continent.

  16. eric says:

    No….not at all..Nazi Germany made economic recovery BEFORE it started its quest for a second attempt for a place in the sun, and doing all the brutalities you mentioned, on the excuse of Nazism and German identity….as happened with the annexation of Sudetenland etc .those events happened in the late 30s…Sudetenland then part of Czechoslovakia happened in 1938 and The League of Nations turned a blind eye. Germany recovered economically and paid almost all of its debts by the early 1930s. If Hitler did not push for strong industrial production, he would have not succeeded in the second and evil part of his scheme. It was this success which then paved way for what he wanted to do and how he did it was remarkable, convincing so many millions of people to believe him. It remains something that still astounds just as it is so seedy and ghoulish.

    • There was no time of Nazi Germany “before” becoming a murderous dictatorship. The first concentration camp was put into use in March 1933, only 50 days after Hitler became Chancellor.

  17. eric says:

    . You have a point here but I did not want to go into that. Hitler started murdering opponents quickly. And people knew it even though he hid it. But they preferred to close one eye! The thing is that he managed to cover it up with a lot of propaganda about industrial expansion, economic development etc. As you know, his murderous policies were revealed after the night of the long knives and this event shocked millions. It was just his ploy in bettering the economy in order to hide these hideous acts and continue winning over the public

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