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Konrad Werner: It’d be cheaper just to let them in

The EU has decided to spend stupid money on buying insanely expensive military hardware to stop refugees from getting in. A policy that doesn't involve drowning would probably work out to be more economical.

Image for Konrad Werner: It'd be cheaper just to let them in
Photo by Markus Winkler

Europe is no stranger to crises. It is crisis central. Now it has a humanity crisis. As this brilliant op-ed points out, in about 20 years’ time, someone might have to go to court over what happened in the Mediterranean last week. But those people didn’t die of neglect, or because everyone is ignoring what happened, but because the EU’s border policies really worked well. People can try all they like, but most of them are going to die getting in. The fortress works. The deaths were the result of successful policies, not failed ones, and all the talk of “never letting this happen again” is just a lie, because there is no intention to change that policy.

If that weren’t a lie, the EU wouldn’t have decided yesterday to triple the budget not of the search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum, which is still defunct as of last year, but of its militarized border control operation Triton – €120 million a year, the same amount of money that Mare Nostrum used to cost, except this time it’s being funded through the border control agency Frontex instead of Italy.

All that is going to happen is that more people are going to die. Some people are still convinced that housing refugees would cost the state a lot of money, but the EU is currently spending vast sums on policies that actually drown people. While in Germany local councils are being starved of the cash they need to deal with refugees and process their applications – causing ugly flashpoints like Tröglitz that the Nazis feed on – Triton gets a massive boost to police the borders with surveillance drones and satellites. There’s always money for military hardware, but somehow there’s never enough money to stop people from dying.

But anyway, as Pro Asyl explain here, a few practical measures that wouldn’t cost stupid money would indeed stop “this from happening again”, or at least make it a bit less likely: allow people to apply for asylum at embassies in other countries, expand resettlement programs (the US has a much better record than the EU when it comes to accommodating the United Nations’ resettlement program, by the way), and allow asylum seekers to work and get training. All the rest is death.