But the worst part is, the list of thousands likely reflects less than half of those who have actually died trying to get to Europe in the last couple of decades, said Geert Ates, director of the nonprofit United for Intercultural Action, which created the list. The list is also nothing new ― United has been compiling and releasing it to the public annually since the 1990s.
“We had thousands of cases in the 1990s. We thought media would care, but nobody was interested when we published the first list, nor when we published 10,000,” Ates told HuffPost on Wednesday. “Now we have 30,000 names and all of a sudden everybody jumps on the list. I don’t know why.”
“Once a year, we publish the list. Once a year we make the call: People are dying at our borders, and no one does anything to stop it,” he added.
Why the list is only a fraction of those who have actually died
It’s a difficult task to track all of the migrants who have died while traveling to Europe, whether they perished while crossing its borders on land or while traveling to its shores by sea. Hundreds of thousands journey each year across the Mediterranean alone, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Tracking those who have drowned is particularly difficult.
What’s more, United’s list doesn’t even account for migrants who have died on the African continent, many of whom may have been journeying across countries toward Europe but perished before making it to the Mediterranean.
“Most probably thousands more are never found,” Ates said. “Many are frozen in mountains, or boats disappeared or smugglers let the boat sink.”
“When a boat sinks, the survivors estimate how many they were on the boat, but that can well be wrong,” he added. “And their families will have no idea.”
Even when a body is found, it’s another challenge to identify it, as many migrants travel without documents, with fake names, or have lost papers along the way, Ates noted. Just a cursory glance at United’s list shows just how hard naming the dead can be: The vast majority are listed as “N.N.” ― or “no name.”
One line from February 2016, for instance, lists the deaths of a 14-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman as “N.N., Iraq, froze to death after crossing the river from Turkey to Bulgaria.” Another line from April 2017 records the deaths of an 8-year-old boy and a pregnant woman as “N.N., unknown, died on sea from Libya to Italy.”
“We get calls from family in Africa,” Ates told HuffPost. “‘Do you know where my brother is? He went to Europe and disappeared.’”
As the number of migrants dying has grown, efforts to account for them have gotten better
So far this year, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) has counted more than 3,000 migrants who have died journeying across the Mediterranean or in Europe, fleeing war or persecution or simply seeking a better life.
Over the past few years, the number of migrants dying on their way to Europe has swelled, from more than 3,200 in 2014, to close to 4,000 in 2015 to a record of more than 5,000 last year. The vast majority die in the Mediterranean as smugglers take them on dangerous trips in boats unfit to carry so many across such distances.
United has been keeping track of migrants who have died while traveling to Europe since 1993, counting those who perished at sea, on land while crossing borders or in detention centers. For decades it was one of the only groups compiling a systematic list of migrant deaths in Europe. A handful of volunteers would release the list each year, compiling it by scouring local news reports, collecting information from the group’s now-550 partner organizations across 48 countries, and enlisting help from journalists and researchers.
In the last few years the IOM has also started an initiative to count migrant deaths. Their findings largely match up with United’s, with a difference of a few hundred each year.
While the numbers on United’s list ― and in IOM’s reports ― are staggering, neither group can possibly capture every single death, Ates said.
For us the figure is not the most important. Each unnecessary death is one too many. Geert Ates, director of United for Intercultural Action
Ates estimates that United’s numbers from its early years in the 1990s accounted for only about 30 percent of actual deaths. Their network of partners was smaller then, and Google alerts didn’t exist, making tracking local newspaper reports of deaths harder.
In recent years, as governments and international organizations like IOM have also started efforts to track, Ates estimates the figures are closer to capturing information on 80 percent of those who have died.
“It’s hard to give a figure, but surely 50,000 [have been uncounted] since 1993, and probably 80,000,” Ates wrote HuffPost by email. “For us the figure is not the most important. Each unnecessary death is one too many.”
This is what happens when countries close their borders
Many European countries have closed their borders in recent years in response to the refugee crisis. Hungary slammed its border shut in 2015, leaving thousands of migrants stranded. Last year, Denmark and Sweden tightened their border controls. Even Germany, once a leader in opening borders to refugees, recently capped the number of refugees it would allow in.
As a result of such restrictive migration policies, many of the people trying to reach Europe’s shores have had to resort to taking higher risks to get there.
“Migration policies making it harder to enter is killing people who are taking more risks,” Ates said. “If you build a wall, people will try to go around it ― with more risk ― and end up dying.”
“These are the consequences when Europe shuts its doors and eyes,” Ates said. “How big must our message get before something will change?”
A few years ago, I was asked to work on a book project for a blogger and internet entrepreneur in the finance space. This was a person with an enormous list and a very successful business. They had more than 100,000 email subscribers, and from the paying subscribers they had created a business worth several million dollars annually.
As I sat down and read the emails and articles that this site created, looking for the bones we’d build a book around, I quickly ran into a problem: this person was not actually saying anything at all.
The emails were very compelling, don’t misunderstand. They sucked me from sentence to sentence, paragraph break to paragraph break, and then from one article to the next. They were in fact brilliantly written. I just could not figure out what this person was actually selling. The best I could come up with, after really digging into it, for hours and hours, was that the entire premise of this person’s pitch was: Buy options on stocks that go up in value.
Now, I’m certainly a proponent of simplicity and I will grant that often the most powerful messages are the most obvious ones, but that’s not what was happening here. Skilled copywriting and marketing was covering up an undeniable fact: There was basically nothing there. And as a result, it didn’t matter how big the email list was, how great a marketer the owner was, there was not much in the way of a book there. Because a book is about something.
In the short term, this had worked well for him. It kept people coming back subscribed to the emails, thinking that eventually the secrets were going to be revealed. In truth that was never going to happen. It was one of those situations that Gertrude Stein famously said, one where there is no there there.
It’s great to know your why, but if you haven’t nailed down your there, as in, what the hell is this?, that’s a big problem. One that you can only cover for with marketing or being ahead of the curve technologically for so long.
Much of the work that’s created online falls into this category. It’s not that Lele Pons or Amanda Cerny or Logan Paul aren’t funny. Humor is subjective. It’s that there is genuinely nothing there. When one watches their work, you can’t help but feel, as Marc Maron perfectly described, that you are actually being assaulted by a lack of talent. To paraphrase a burn from a classic New York Times piece, while it’s true that less is more, some sadly set new standards of lessness, and actually bask in the void of lessness.
This is not a criticism of the entire medium or generation, of course. If you watch Jerry Seinfeld’s interview with the YouTuber Colleen Ballinger (Miranda Sings), you see that outside the context of her medium (short-form DIY YouTube videos), she’s able to improvise, exhibit a mastery of her character, and keep up with another quick mind. Or if you look at the work of Kirby Jenner, you see that in addition to being truly skilled at photoshop and hitting the same Kardashians joke over and over, he can apply his absurd and strange humor in his stories. Even Tank Sinatra, who built his account mostly in popularizing other internet humor (or tweaking existing constructs and established memes), can make solid jokes on Twitter and create memes of his own (see a good interview with him here). The same goes for Casey Neistat’s videos. He’s not the biggest by any means, but he’s actually doing real work, so he will almost certainly outlast most of his peers.
This critique is not limited to art, it’s true for people too. The person who says their passion is social entrepreneurship but builds nothing and cares about no one. The person who pontificates about every political and cultural issue they can but never departs from a party line or leaves a virtue unsignaled. There is nothing actually there. And they wonder why they never accomplish anything. One of the ironies of Donald Trump, of course, is that a portion of the population responded to him because he seemed authentic and real and stood for things. In fact, he was a crazy mess of contradictions and this allowed him to provoke that reaction from all sorts of different people on different issues. But he was able to win because his opponent, someone far more qualified for the office, could not, for the life of her, give a compelling answer to the question: “Why are you running for president?”
Without a there, what is there? There is nothing.
And yet this is the strategy that most people allow to guide their work and their lives.
Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, talks often about the moment that he realized that he didn’t actually have a coaching philosophy. He had, up until that point, just been winging it—doing a little of this, a little of that, changing for each situation. How old was he when he figured that out? 49! (Thank God he did figure it out—and within 14 years he’d won a national championship and a Super Bowl).
It’s essential that we cultivate this ability to stop and look objectively at our own work. One must step back from it and say: Am I really doing good work here? What do I stand for? Am I actually moving towards mastery? Is there any substance to what I am doing?
I know this is not easy to do. I’ve resisted it too. There’s a story I’ve told before, but I’ll do it again: Early in my career, a piece I did on Stoicism took off and I got some interest from a small, hybrid publishing house about turning it into a book. “This would be a great book,” they said, “Many of our clients turn articles like this into books and then speaking careers.” Of course, I was flattered and excited. It was only by the intervention of Robert Greene, a real writer and a mentor of mine, who pushed me to decline. “You’re not ready,” he said. “Put in the work to develop yourself and in a few years you will be capable of actually doing this book at the level it deserves to be done.” He was right. There was not much there there, for me yet. When I looked at the material, I saw that I only had enough for a few chapters.
Now I could have paid to have someone help me work around that weakness. Or I could have, with my marketing abilities and platform, found a way to gloss over it. I am fortunate that I didn’t do this—that someone told me “Fuck your dreams” politely enough that I sobered up. Because if I had, that book would not have gone on to sell a half million copies the way that The Obstacle Is The Way did, and it would not have made its way through the NFL, through the US Senate, or to the CEOs and executives and celebrities that it has. That only happens when there is something actually there.
People often think that ego is helpful because it makes people ambitious. It makes them confident that they can succeed where so many others have failed. This might be true, but more often it’s toxic for precisely the reasons that I have outlined above. To make work that actually sells—that is perennial and important and meaningful—requires humility and dedication. It requires the objectivity and awareness that is made impossible with ego. Ego wants big numbers, not hard work. It wants to be everything for everyone, and often ends up being nothing for nobody.
The client above thought I could slap together a book—but I couldn’t. No one could. And he didn’t like hearing it when I told him that to succeed as a writer outside of his niche (where he was admittedly quite successful), it would require real work. It would require abandoning the crutches of medium. They didn’t, and that’s fine. Their choice.
But if you want to do meaningful and important work you have to push yourself toward substance, stretch your capacities until they are no longer such a stretch. If you want to be a person who people respect, you have to stand for something. Not everyone will like it, but if it’s sincere, they will respect it.
You have to find your there.
Because without it, what are you?
Drivers who kill someone in the most serious cases of dangerous and careless driving will now face life sentences.
Causing death by dangerous driving, or death by careless driving while drunk or on drugs, will carry the top-level punishment.
Jail terms in cases involving mobile phones, speeding or street racing will now be the equivalent of manslaughter, the Ministry of Justice said.
Road safety charity Brake said it was a “major victory” for victims’ families.
It follows criticism that sentences for those convicted over road deaths were too lenient.
The increase will apply to offences in England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, which has separate road safety laws.
Barrister Matthew Scott told BBC Radio 5 live the change would not increase road safety.
- Driver who fled crash scene after killing passenger is jailed
- Speeding driver jailed over boy’s death
- Nine years jail for driver who killed girl, four
Announcing the change, justice minister Dominic Raab said: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”
A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created.
‘This is something serious’
A woman who lost her partner to a driver distracted by his mobile phone believes a life sentence may be the deterrent needed to make drivers take more care.
Meg Williamson’s Australian boyfriend Gavin Roberts, 28, died after his BMW was hit by a Vauxhall Corsa driven by Lewis Stratford on the A34 in Oxfordshire in June 2016.
Stratford, who was speeding and having an argument with his girlfriend over the phone, admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for three years and eight months in March.
Ms Williamson told BBC Radio 5 live that if a harsher sentence had been in place at the time “it might have prevented Lewis from doing what he did”.
She said: “It’s about re-educating people now. I think it might just take that one person to get the life imprisonment if some fatality occurs then people will start to realize this is something serious.”
Ms Williamson met Stratford, who was also badly hurt in the crash, before he was sentenced at Reading Crown Court.
She said the meeting had been difficult but had helped them both move towards “closure”.
She said: “In time I think I will forgive him. It’s something everybody has got to live with.
“He now has to live with the guilt of what he has done and we are all dealing with the fact that somebody is missing from our life on a daily basis.”
The changes follow a public consultation in December 2016 which generated 9,000 responses.
Of them, 70% backed increasing the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving from the current 14 years to a life term.
Death by careless driving carries a maximum term of five years, increasing to 14 years if alcohol or drugs are involved.
Last week a man who killed a nine-year-old boy while driving at more than double the speed limit was jailed for four years.
Atif Dayaji, 27, had admitted death by dangerous driving after hitting Adam Imfal-Limbada while travelling at about 67mph (108kph) in a 30mph (48kph) zone in Blackburn, Lancashire, in August 2016.
Department for Transport figures show that while three in five killer drivers are jailed, the average sentence is four years.
In 2016, 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and 32 were convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence, the MoJ said.
Brake has argued that penalties faced by drivers who kill and injure are “grossly inadequate” and cause added anguish to their families.
Jason Wakeford, Brake’s director of campaigns, said: “We applaud the government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.”
Mr Scott argued that the announcement was a “crowd-pleasing gesture” and that life sentences “should be reserved for the most serious offences”.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Bad though it is and wrong though it is, taking out a mobile phone while driving without any intention to cause death, I don’t consider that is the sort of behaviour that could possibly justify a life sentence.”
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41627240