Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 46 Number 15, June 28, 2016 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Global instability, poverty and the refugee crisis

Britain, the Other Big Powers and the
Imperialist System of States Are Responsible

According to reports from the UN Refugee Agency, over 200,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean already this year and over 2,500 have lost their lives. Nearly nine hundred people lost their lives making the hazardous crossing in the last week of May this year. The majority of migrants who lost their lives embark from Libya and attempt to reach Italy and this route is particularly dangerous. Most of the migrant/refugees in Libya originate in West Africa as well as from countries such as Somalia and Eritrea. It is estimated that there are currently around 800,000 migrants still waiting in Libya to cross the Mediterranean. In addition, there are thousands more from Syria, Afghanistan and other war zones and impoverished areas seeking a new life in Europe and often at the mercy of organised criminals. According to Interpol figures, human trafficking is now more lucrative than narcotics with a turnover of some $6 billion per year. In this regard there there is particular concern about the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children who make the Mediterranean crossing and then disappear. It is estimated that since the current refugee crisis started over 10,000 minors have disappeared in Europe.

The news media have been full of reports suggesting that the British government, the governments of other EU countries and the UN are concerned about the refugee crisis and the terrible loss of that is a consequence of it. Yet they can provide no effective solutions, as the numbers of refugees and deaths has continued to rise. When the G7 Summit closed in Japan on May 27, David Cameron had announced that the government's main strategy was to return those who made the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. At the same time, he claimed that Britain was doing more than any other country to "support jobs and livelihoods in unstable African countries" and that he was also engaged in measures to "boost the capacity of the Libyan coastguard". Cameron was of the opinion that such measures and the deployment of a British warship to Libyan waters would "help stabilise Libya, secure its coast and tackle the migration crisis".

However, Britain has been one of the main destabilisers of Libya, as well as other African countries. Instability in Libya and elsewhere in Africa is presented as though Britain and the other big powers had no responsibility for it. In Libya, Britain as well as its NATO allies were the main factor that created the anarchy which still remains, with two rival governments, as well as other warring militias, and the ever-expanding presence of the sinister Daesh/ISIL, which is now reported to be a significant presence in Libya where Britain's "Special Forces" are also operating secretly without the knowledge or sanction of parliament. Even the Libyan government recognised by Britain and the UN has limited jurisdiction and can only operate with the utmost difficulty. Only recently it was announced that there is not even one nationally recognised currency in the country, with rival banknotes being printed in Britain and Russia. This government imposed by NATO exists only in a naval base, is unelected and enjoys little popular support. Indeed, it is widely criticised for being so closely connected with the Anglo-Americans. The military intervention of the British government has created this dire situation in what was once the most developed African country. It has facilitated the refugee crisis, which also included thousands of Libyans, and can only suggest that more intervention and interference might provide a solution.

Neither military nor economic intervention by Britain and the other big powers has produced stability in Libya or other African countries which despite considerable economic growth rates in some places are still impoverished and producing thousands of refugees. It is significant that Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is also one of the largest producers of refugees, not least because of the activities of Boko Haram, which have also been facilitated by military intervention in Libya, but also because of the imposition of neo-liberalism in the various forms dictated by Britain, the US and the institutions of the imperialist system of states. Remarks about corruption in Nigeria by David Cameron masked the fact that, as over a hundred Nigerian "civil society" organisations pointed out, significant amounts of Nigeria's plundered wealth is laundered in Britain. They might also have pointed out that large-scale corruption in Nigeria was largely developed by Shell and other oil monopolies and also that Nigeria has been consistently ranked in the top ten countries in the world suffering from illicit financial flows, losing around $129 billion in the first ten years of this century alone. According to a report by the Africa Development Bank, in the thirty years before 2010 the African continent as a whole lost more from illicit financial flows and other wealth transfer than it received in so-called "aid" and investment from Britain and other developed countries. Africa provided to the world plundered resources of $1.4 trillion, that is about four times the value of the entire continent's foreign debt and almost the value of its total GDP. It goes almost without saying that many of these illicit transfers involve British monopolies and financial institutions. Moreover, Britain and its financial institutions lead the world in providing tax havens and the global transfer of illicit funds that are the cause of such poverty and instability in Africa as well as elsewhere in the world.

Neither crocodile tears nor the actions proposed by the Conservative government and its allies will bring stability to Libya nor other African countries. Neither will they be successful in halting the global refugee crisis which is a consequence of worldwide instability and poverty caused by the intervention of Britain and the other big powers and the existence of the imperialist system of states. However, another world is possible. For this world to be brought into being all democratic people led by the wealth producers must find ways to empower themselves, usher in an anti-war government and build a new people-centred society.


Link to Full Issue of Workers' Weekly Volume 46 Number 15, June 28, 2016

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive