The recent events of June involving the death of five rich men dominated the media. As all eyes were on the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean those fleeing war, poverty and climate change were ignored as they drowned in the seas crossing to Europe.
According to the EU commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, the sinking of a packed migrant boat off the coast of Greece may be “the worst tragedy ever” in the Mediterranean Sea. The death toll stands at 82, with 104 survivors pulled from the water. However, accounts by witnesses report that many more went down with the ship.
Johansson said that “unfortunately, we have seen this coming because, since the start of the year, there was a new modus operandi with these fishing boats leaving from the eastern part of Libya … and we’ve seen an increase of 600% of these departures this year.” Clearly, from this statement, it is not an issue of not having enough notice but a lack of wanting to help in any meaningful way.
Other global bodies, such as the International Organization for Migration and the UN High Commission for Refugees, called for “urgent and decisive action” to prevent further deaths in the Mediterranean.” They emphasised “the duty to rescue people in distress at sea without delay.”
Tarek Aldroobi, who had three relatives on board, told CNN that they had seen the Greek authorities towing the vessel with ropes but says they were tied in the “wrong places,” which caused it to capsize. The Greek coastguard denies that they were responsible for the capsizing.
Thirty-nine migrants drowned when their dinghy sank in the Atlantic Ocean off the Canary Islands, the Spanish non-profit group Walking Borders said. The group’s founder, Helena Maleno, said the migrants had waited for more than twelve hours for assistance. A Spanish helicopter sent to the area in response to a request for help from the Moroccan authorities found the dead minor and saw no other survivors, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
Off the Italian island of Lampedusa more than forty people are missing after another shipwreck. A spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, Flavio Di Giacomo, stated that the vessel, which left from Sfax in Tunisia, was carrying forty-six migrants from Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast.
“It is unacceptable to continue counting the dead at the gates of Europe,” the UNHCR representative for Italy, Chiara Cardoletti, wrote on Twitter, referring to deadly shipwrecks of migrant boats that have already occurred in Italy, Greece, and Spain.
The number of migrant shipwrecks has increased in recent months, while the number of migrants entering the EU via the central Mediterranean “more than doubled” in 2023 compared with the same period last year, according to the EU border agency, Frontex, in mid-June.
The poorly made boats sinking with the slightest amount of damage can be compared with the ignoring of safety measures taken by Oceangate. The late CEO, Stockton Rush, ignored safety concerns brought to his attention by engineers working on the submersible Titan. He believed that being told he was going to kill someone was “baseless cries” and “personal insults.” But the Titan’s design was unsafe, as the hull was too thin, and the submersible itself had no approval by a regulatory body.
Rush had been recorded as saying that regulations and safety measures got in the way of innovation. Capitalist innovation needs regulations removed in order to push forward. However, the Titan could hardly be called innovative, as it was cheap and unable to withstand the pressure of the sea.
The need to ignore safety to make progress under capitalism leads to questions such as What if other companies followed suit and put their workers’ lives at risk, ignoring the consequences?
Under capitalism, lives are ignored while profit is upheld as a deity. Those fleeing their homes and crossing the sea in dangerous conditions are fleeing conditions made by those who are exploiting the world’s resources, including those of the countries that are being fled from, in order to cut corners and make a profit.
We saw at first hand the fetishisation of wealth as the sinking of three migrant boats was ignored so that we could all find out what happened to five rich men who each spent $250,000 to prove that ignoring safety concerns has consequences.