Do you sometimes get the feeling that there’s a whole world of news Out There which, for some reason, the usual media won’t touch? The BBC Radio 4 news was this morning covering the terrible tragedy of the sinking of a boatload of refugees off Italy.
Now the very business of such illegal immigration is so badly covered here that there’s a tendency to think, “If they put themselves in such a situation just to reach Europe’s affluence, what do they expect?” But to do the BBC credit, the story they were after was, “What terrible situations must these people be in at home to take such risks?”
To answer it they interviewed a guy now resident here, who had actually got into Europe after more than one such trip. He started off by saying that things were so bad at home in Libya that he couldn’t stay, but then went on to describe the horrors of the voyage, the starvation, the daily deaths, the women lapsing into insanity and finally his return home.
“Goodness!” exclaimed the presenter. “After an experience like that whatever made you decide to try again?” And here’s where the script went off-message, because the guy explained that he hadn’t made the choice. He’d been on his way to church with others, when government officials rounded them up and forced them on to a boat. At that point the interviewer said thankyou, and spoke to a United Nations official who described the economic and physical pressures that made ordinary people feel constrained to strike out for Europe.
And that’s a sorry enough tale. But fleeing from a war zone is one thing. Being exiled from your country on a lethal overcrowded hulk by your government – apparently on the grounds that you are a Christian on his way to church in a predominantly Muslim country – is another, and very much more sinister.
Why do you suppose it’s one in which the BBC (or the other mainstream media) seems to show no interest, even when first hand evidence is presented in a relevant interview?