The dark side of migration

Friday 24/04/2015
Human traffickers have no qualms of dumping entire families into sea

Despondency, despair and disillusion. Those feelings, combined with the absolute realisation that the future is not about to improve, regardless of which tyrant, despot or dictator is in power, is what drives tens of thousands of men, women and children into uncertain migration and into the belly of an ugly beast called human greed.
Running away from economic disasters or civil wars, searching for peaceful streets and a pay cheque at the end of the month, illegal migrants face Herculean challenges on the level of a Greek odyssey.
They set out facing some of na­ture’s harshest challenges, having to cross jungles or deserts, carrying all their worldly goods in a small suitcase. According to many who survived the trip, often what little they do have, they are obliged to abandon along the way. Often, if what they carry has any value, it may end up being stolen. There have been numerous reports of women being sexually abused.
And when they finally manage to slip past border guards and military patrols and make it to the coast of Libya – the current preferred desti­nation for embarkation to Europe — it’s often at this point in the journey that the real dangers begin. From discrete harbours in North Africa the next step requires the migrant to buy a seat on one of the many vessels used for that purpose.
The price they are charged to cross the Mediterranean represents, for many, their life savings and sometimes they borrow from fellow villagers back home.
It is at this point in the voyage that they face some of the most serious and danger­ous challenges: Dealing with modern-day pirates and human traffickers who have absolutely no scruples. The migrants are seen as merchandise to be trans­ported.
The cost per person is about $10,000- $15,000 for a place on an overcrowded and unseaworthy vessel to take them across the Mediterranean.
These greediest of hu­man traffickers have no qualms of dumping entire families into the sea. The nationality of the migrants of the day depends largely on which country is presently undergoing in­ternal strife, civil war or some other major catastrophe.
And still they come. Every week we hear of dozens, of hundreds, of illegal immigrants dying as they try to make their way to Europe and what they hope will be a better world. Many make it, many, how­ever, do not.
Recently up to 900 African mi­grants might have perished when their boat capsized off the Libyan coast. Yet for those, like many oth­ers before them and just like many others who will follow, the choice is to remain in their home country facing unemployment, uncertainty and possible death. Alternatively they can embark upon a dangerous voyage and the possible reward of a better life on the other end. It is a gamble many choose to make.
The horror stories of those dying along the way do not seem to deter or even slow the migration drive from Africa to Europe.
The trail of dead bodies, of shat­tered lives and stories of sorrow that stretch across the African con­tinent to the shores of Tripoli and the thousands of those who end up at the bottom of the Mediterranean does not seem to deter others from trying. Everybody believes their luck will fare better. Some do and some don’t.
The 900 souls who died in the Mediterranean in mid-April can be counted among the “lucky ones”. There were enough survivors to relate their tragedy. Think of the many who perished and who no­body knows about.
What is tragic about this is that it is no longer shocking. Nor is it frightening enough to deter oth­ers from following the trail of sorrow and death that treks across Africa to the coasts of Libya or Morocco.
Italian authorities said approximate­ly 8,500 migrants had been rescued at sea from April 10th and 12th. Italian authori­ties say more than 15,000 migrants have reached land so far in 2015. There were 15,000 in April alone last year and an average of 25,000 each month from June through September.

Regrettably, people smuggling remains a lucrative business.