Migrant blues - The Libyan Report

Migrant blues

ON Saturday, French officials were shocked to find 31 Pakistanis hidden inside a truck during a routine check of vehicles near the Italian border. While it has not yet been ascertained whether this incident was a case of human trafficking or smuggling — and the distinction is important — it has raised alarm bells in Europe. Just a few days earlier, 39 migrants — believed to be Vietnamese nationals — were found dead inside an abandoned refrigerated truck in the UK. They had all suffocated to death. One young woman sent a heartbreaking message to her loved ones back home: “I’m dying because I can’t breathe... Mom, I am so sorry, Mom.”

Such tragedies highlight the desperation of migrants who attempt to escape what they see as hopeless living conditions in their home countries. Risking their lives in the pursuit of greener pastures, modern-day migrants attempt to escape war, religious and ethnic persecution, poverty and harsh economic conditions. Migrants from Pakistan are typically categorised as economic migrants from the rural and small towns of the country, who undertake a dangerous journey to Europe. Often, they are sold dreams of wealth and adventure awaiting them in other lands by human traffickers. However, as witnessed in the most recent tragedy in the UK, many do not make their journey to their new homes successfully. Last year, 11 Pakistanis were counted among 90 migrants who drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Indeed, this mass movement of people from one country to another is one of the most pressing topics of our century, which has so far been characterised by great inequality and strife. Illegal migration, human trafficking and smuggling are intercontinental issues, and so require cooperation among various countries and regions in order to tackle the problem successfully. However, until the root causes — income inequality, prejudice and war — are not addressed, we will continue to witness such tragedies in the coming years.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019 source