The heartbreaking image of the lifeless body of three-year old Alan Kurdi washed ashore a beach in Turkey on September 2, 2015, had deeply moved the people across the world.
Despite a million prayers for such incidents to not repeat in future, the tragedies at sea continues incessantly. The horrifying image of 74 dead bodies washed ashore in the city of Zawiya on the Mediterranean Sea, recently, proves just that. The bodies believed to be of refugees fleeing to Europe to escape poverty and violence, lined up along the Libyan coast, had dominated the headlines of international media. The shock is likely to turn into indifference when the terrifying circumstances of many migrants like Alan drowning to death, comes to light. The bodies of women, children and the elderly washed ashore in Zawia scream that the innocent souls fleeing internal war are hurled into the trap of demons awaiting them. Whether there were more people onboard the boat that had a capacity of 150 is still unclear. Similarly unknown are the whereabouts of those in the boat.
Allegations of a huge mafia functioning at the international level, to exploit the increasing influx of refugees to Europe, were raised earlier. The unidentified bodies washed ashore are latest in the incidents that establish the above fact. The gangs approach the asylum-seekers from countries like Syria and Libya torn apart by internal war and also from famine and drought afflicted African countries, on the pretext of helping them cross the Mediterranean Sea. They extort hefty amount of money from the migrants, selling them in slave markets and using them for mafia activities. The international community paid no heed to the frequent warnings of the related organizations functioning in this field.
The approach of Britain by exiting from the European Union and the decision of US President Donald Trump to ban the refugees by racially branding them also encouraged these human traffickers and sea smugglers. According to the organisations operating in Libya, the number of migrants who drowned to death while crossing the sea this year, comes up to 330. Only these estimates are officially available to the UN. Over 12, 000 refugees from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and Eretria have crossed into Europe this year. The mafia gangs transport the migrants by cramming them in rickety smugglers’ boats or fish boats undertaking harsh and precarious sea voyages even in freezing winter. The traffickers either abandon the poor souls at sea or deliberately sink the boats if they fear getting caught by the authorities or doubt about the required financial benefits received. Such incidents have become commonplace nowadays.
More than 5000 refugees have drowned to death last year. These human traffickers choose the Libyan route along the central Mediterranean which is known as the most dangerous route in the world for crossing the sea. The gravity of sin committed by these smugglers against humanity can therefore be comprehended. In Libya amidst the bloody civil war that has been continuing for five years, there are many armed organisations that bargain and make money exploiting the migrants. The present government in Libya had asked for assistance to the NATO for the training required to curb the human trafficking mafia and others. Britain has provided a financial aid of 17 lakh pounds to improve the condition of prisons in Libya. But the crisis in Libya is beyond all these factors.
The leaders of the European Union warn about how the refugees are crammed in ‘concentration camps-like’ prisons and how the mafia gangs exploit this aspect. A summit was held by the European Union in Malta on February 3 aimed at tackling the refugee crisis. But no effective solution evolved during the meeting. In reality, it’s the deeds of the EU and the US that have wreaked havoc in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan triggering the escalating migrant influx that these countries are currently experiencing. The decision of the Western powers pushes the refugees into further misery through inhuman ways.
The international community at present is making ‘vast’ arrangements for the refugees ‘dangerously overcrowded’ in Libya and initiating steps to prevent them from crossing over to Europe via the sea. Medicines Sans Frontiers, an international humanitarian NGO, had strongly warned against the decision to block the people from escaping Libya. But it fell on deaf ears. As France, Germany and Netherland preps for the upcoming elections, the governments face-off with the right wing extremists. The feverishness to prove that they haven’t permitted the entry of refugees to Europe is what has led to the bodies getting washed up ashore in Zawia. Isolating the refugees and pushing them into more misery and hardships would eventually consume Europe as a colossal tragedy. One has to only anticipate when.