The asylum applicants are met with two contradictory demands: to be traumatised and persecuted enough to be recognised as refugees, and to be physically and emotionally fit in order to contribute to the host country’s economy.
When we focus our arguments on the bad weather and on the Christmas season, we downplay the significance and severity of the actual issue, which then fades from the fore of public debates.
Detained Sea Watch 3 also serves as temporary home to its crew members. Sea rescue is not just about misery and suffering. There is space for hope and fun too. Toys, washing lines and origami birds in the engineer’s cabin are also part of a rescue vessel.
If refugees and migrants do not simply “become like us”, forgetful of a system which will keep producing its outcasts, the ‘vanguard’ of refugees may become the sign of a new beginning, of the possibility of a different world.
Had a humanitarian vessel been a luxury yacht with extra communitarian multi-millionaires, the Maltese ports would not only be flung open but would be providing them with all the necessary paperwork to turn them into Maltese citizens.
Although they are uniformly referred to as “foreigners”, foreign nationals receive contrasting treatment, depending on their social status and nationality.