Last year, Barcelona made history by electing Ada Colau as its new mayor. The radical leftwing candidate won over voters last June, after pledging to fight corruption, tackle unemployment, and sort the city’s growing housing crisis. She even ended up taking a mammoth pay cut to cement her status as a more ‘honest’ politician; slashing her annual salary from €140,000 to €35,000 as soon as she got into power.
Now, Colau has unveiled her latest change to the Catalan city. The mayor has installed a large digital ‘shame counter’ over one of Barcelona’s most popular beaches, which aims to track the number of refugees who die while crossing the Mediterranean ocean. The monument's counter – which currently stands at 3,034 – is headed with the statement: “This isn’t just a number, these are people.”
“We are inaugurating this shame counter which will update all known victims who drowned in the Mediterranean in real time,” Colau explained, after the installation was revealed. “We’re here to look the Mediterranean in the face and look at this number – 3,034 people who drowned because they were not offered a safe passage.”
The monument arrived just days before a UN meeting on the refugee crisis, which is widely seen as the one of the worst in history. Despite thousands dying due to the lack of safe passage, the organisation rejected a proposal to resettle the migrants on Tuesday (August 2); opting instead to leave the issue unaddressed for another year.
“The Refugee Summit was a historic opportunity to find a desperately-needed global solution to the refugee crisis,” said Charlotte Philipps from Amnesty International, once the UN’s verdict was announced. “Instead, world leaders delayed any chance of a deal until 2018, procrastinating over crucial decisions even as refugees drown at sea and languish in camps with no hope for the future.”