It is always disturbing and distressing every time one hears about asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants anywhere, especially those with families, who risk their lives embarking on an uncertain and perilous journey in any manner, shape and form, seeking refuge and hoping for a new life in other lands from the cruelty of war, political unrest and poverty, only to lose their lives at the end.
We are talking about the large number of Syrian people escaping Syria’s civil war, flooding not only the neighboring countries, but also finding their way to some places in Europe now, while others failing because of sea tragedy.
We are talking about thousands of asylum-seekers, mainly from Afghanistan and the Middle East, heading to Indonesia each year to make the dangerous voyage across the Indian Ocean to Australia.
Relative to this, Australia struck a deal with Malaysia to disrupt the transit of asylum-seekers through the Southeast Asian nation to Indonesia, where they board rickety, overloaded boats heading for Australian waters.
We are talking about the over 100 people that have died and some 150 missing after a boat which departed from Libya caught fire and sank just off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The survivors said they set fire to a blanket to attract the attention of coast guards after the overcrowded boat started sinking. The boat was believed to have been carrying around 500 passengers, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia.
What is woeful about all these is the fact that whether one is an asylum seeker, a refugee or any other type of migrants, they have to shell out an enormous amount of money to people smugglers just so they could reach to their destination regardless of whether the vessel they are taking for the voyage is seaworthy or not vis-à-vis the number of passengers riding.
That is how desperate these boat people are for a new beginning and how unscrupulous the people smugglers are in making their future uncertain.
Only very recently rescuers have found the bodies of 92 migrants, most of them women and children, strewn across the Sahara desert in northern Niger after their vehicles broke down and they died of thirst.
Many were in an advanced state of decomposition and had been partly devoured by animals, probably jackals, according to rescuers.
A large number of people flee poverty in Niger, ranked by the United Nations as the least developed country on earth.
Northern Niger lies on a major corridor for illegal migration and people-trafficking from sub-Saharan African into north Africa and across the Mediterranean into Europe.
What price others have to pay for a peaceful and better life!
(Update: In a related news, aid workers say only eight survivors have been rescued from a boat carrying at least 70 Muslim Rohingya, after it capsized off the western coast of Burma a few days ago.
The boat was believed to be taking the Rohingya from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine to Malaysia, where thousands of members of the Muslim minority have sought sanctuary since violent clashes with Buddhists erupted last year and where Buddhist mobs are said to chase Muslims down with machetes, iron chains, and bamboo clubs.
Fleeing from persecution, many have paid smugglers for passage on rickety and overcrowded boats to Malaysia or further south, despite the dangers posed by rough seas in the Bay of Bengal.
Hundreds are believed to have died at sea so far this year. – Quierosaber)