Yet another gruesome discovery has been made: 71 dead migrants inside an abandoned truck in Austria, between Budapest and Vienna, where thousands are seeking refuge. These deaths are in addition to approximately 100 others who died recently after their vessel capsized en route to Europe.
The people in the truck had apparently suffocated while being illegally transported from the Mediterranean Sea into Southern and Eastern Europe.
Austrian government officials announced on Aug. 28 that the 71 refugees, including an infant girl, were found dead in what appeared to be an abandoned freezer truck. On the same day, Libyan naval units recovered the bodies of 105 migrants washed ashore, apparently after an overcrowded boat in the Mediterranean Sea capsized on its way to Europe.
These deaths came after an upsurge in migrants running away from war and poverty resulting from U.S. and European Union foreign policies. United Nations officials and other international agencies concerned with migration have reported that the number of internally displaced persons and refugees is higher today than at any period since the end of World War II.
The International Organization for Migration revealed that over 330,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year. The estimates of those who have died while trying to cross ranges in the thousands, and more such tragedies are expected.
Impact of imperialist wars spans continents
These recent mass deaths are by no means isolated incidents. A pattern of dislocation has been rising steadily since the wars of regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Nigeria, from 2001 until the present.
Also, growing class divisions and economic difficulties in other Asian and African states are creating tensions that foster migration. Some of the states impacted by this global crisis include Morocco in North Africa, Nigeria in West Africa and Bangladesh in South Asia.
When the U.S. and its NATO allies went to war against the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001, they claimed their aim was to end “terrorism” and ensure stability in Central Asia.
Some 14 years later, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, many more are leaving Afghanistan as a result of ongoing fighting between forces that either support or oppose the Washington-imposed regime in Kabul.
Beginning in 1979, the U.S. waged a covert, CIA-managed war against a socialist-oriented Afghan government that then asked for and got support from the Soviet Union. Washington funded, trained and coordinated Islamic fighters against the secular government, and this led to the formation of al-Qaida and the eventual ascendancy of the Taliban.
In Iraq, since the U.S. military buildup and invasion of 2002-2003, an estimated 1 million people have died. War still rages between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Iraqi government in Baghdad, causing a new wave of emigration.
Both Syria and Libya were targeted for regime change in 2011 by way of Western-funded opponents and militias. In Libya, this was followed by a massive NATO bombing campaign.
Over 4 million Syrians have left their country; many are now seeking refuge in Europe.
The situation in the Horn of Africa is also largely the result of successive U.S. administrations meddling in the affairs of the region. Somalia has been a major target of Pentagon and CIA interventions since the late 1970s, when the administration of Jimmy Carter encouraged the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre to invade Ethiopia, which at that time was undergoing a socialist revolution supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba.
After the overthrow of the Workers Party state in Ethiopia in 1991, the U.S. the following year invaded and occupied Somalia under the guise of a humanitarian mission.
Somalis rose up against the occupation in 1993, prompting a withdrawal by Pentagon and United Nations forces. Washington continued to seek domination of Somalia through an invasion by the now Western oriented Ethiopian regime in 2006. An African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) 22,000-member military force now operates inside the country.
People from all these war-torn regions are now being lured by human traffickers across borders in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the promise of refuge in Europe. However, Europe itself is in a serious economic crisis, particularly in southern states such as Greece.
EU divided over migrant crisis
Deaths of migrants — totaling nearly 3,000 this year — pose a problem for the European Union due to the financial instability inside the imperialist states. Many migrants have entered Greece, where austerity demands by the International Monetary Fund and European banks have led to the most serious economic downturn and put millions in poverty and uncertainty.
Italy has experienced a large wave of migration in recent months. The International Organization for Migration says that over 65 percent of the people seeking entry into Europe this year have crossed over into Greece and Italy. (Reuters, Aug. 28)
The International Business Times reported on Aug. 30 that recent migrants are being trafficked heavily through the Balkans region, “which has now reportedly become the primary route for people-smuggling gangs transporting migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia into Western Europe. Between January and July this year, 102,342 people crossed into Austria via the western Balkans.”
In June, the EU sought to handle the burgeoning migration into Europe through military means, by halting, boarding and returning vessels in which migrants were being transported.
An Aug. 31 Washington Post analysis of the crisis acknowledged the EU’s failure to develop a sound and rational immigration policy:
“Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Hungary, the nation the perished migrants were smuggled through. This former Soviet bloc country, now led by right-wing nationalists, is fast emerging as the toughest obstacle for a record number of refugees trying to reach Europe from war-torn Syria, Iraq and other nations. … Hungary is building a 109-mile-long razor-wire fence on its southern border meant to keep out migrants.”