Hundreds of innocent people, including many women and children, are drowning each month thanks to the disinterest of European governments and the callousness of the Libyan coast guard.
As a case in point, around 87 migrants died Thursday evening after their ship capsized while attempting to transit the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Sicily or the Italian mainland.
That's only the tip of the iceberg. Last Saturday, at least two women drowned when their crude inflatable boat sank. It was only due to the courage of a European nongovernment organization, SOS Mediterranean, that perhaps one hundred others on the boat were saved.
SOS Mediterranean rescue coordinator Klaus Merkle describes the scene: "When our zodiacs approached the inflatable boat, it was already deflated on one side and people were already in the water without a lifejacket. All the emergency equipment was immediately deployed, but many people had already lost consciousness when they were rescued and had to be resuscitated."
An SOS photographer, Laurin Schmid recorded the horror:
As I say, those photos and the fear on those faces is only the tip of the iceberg. After all, how many boats like that on Thursday sink without a trace? How many children die in their mother's arms as the Mediterranean consumes them? How many are left to the sharks?
We must act here.
Don't get me wrong, I recognize why many Europeans and Americans are concerned by what they see as unchecked immigration. These concerns are justified by a range of social, cultural, and policy reasons. I also believe that the vast majority of men traveling without children should be immediately deported upon arrival on European shores.
Still, we must pay moral heed to what's happening in the Mediterranean Sea. Because it's a disgrace to the West and the European Union in particular.
Consider, after all, that it's groups like SOS Mediterranean that take the lead in saving lives at sea. EU governments claim themselves moral beacons for human rights and political enlightenment, but when it comes to Africans at sea, their functional reaction is a simple one.
Qu'ils mangent de la mer. Let them eat the sea.
It is at once pathetic and morally foul, speaking volumes about the EU's ultimate regard for individual life. It also speaks to the dividend of long-term European disinvestment in their military capabilities.
Yet Libya's decrepit coast guard also requires challenge here. As SOS Mediterranean notes, the Libyan coast guard continues to order NGO rescue vessels away from drowning victims, even where the rescuers are in international waters.
Fortunately, this problem is quite easy to solve. President Trump should immediately order Adm. James G. Foggo, commander of the U.S. Europe-Africa naval forces, to have his commanders fire on any Libyan coast guard vessels which attempt to obstruct rescue efforts in international waters. Once they start eating 5-inch Mark 45 artillery rounds, they'll quickly learn to stay in their own lane.
Regardless, if nothing else, remember these photos.