The discovery by the British police of bodies of 39 people inside a truck believed to have come from Bulgaria at an industrial estate near London highlights the continuing plight of migrants and has also put the spotlight on the murky people trafficking business.
Police have not formally tied the deaths to human trafficking as yet, but a link is assumed because of the way the victims were crammed into the truck’s container.
The truck’s apparently circuitous route into and around Britain also raises suspicions.
The tragedy recalls the death of 58 migrants in 2000 in a truck in Dover and the deaths in 2015 of 71 migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan found suffocated in the back of a refrigerated truck abandoned in the emergency lane of a highway near Parndorf, Austria, close to the Hungarian border.
In a separate incident, a Greek coast guard patrol boat collided with a dinghy carrying migrants to the island of Kos from Turkey on Wednesday, leaving a child dead and another person missing.
Fortunately, 31 people were rescued following the collision, in an effort assisted by private boats and the European Union border protection agency Frontex.
Migrants are humans too. Fleeing poverty, conflict and persecution, they risk their lives looking for safer shores. Many of them have lost their lives while doing so, but the world does not seem to bother. That marks a blot on collective human conscience.
Data from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has indicated that the growing number of international migrants has now reached as much as 272 million, outpacing even the growth rate of the world’s population.
The figures reflect a jump from 2010, when the global number was at 221 million, and currently international migrants – defined as anyone who changes their “country of usual residence” – make up 3.5 per cent of the global population, compared to 2.8 per cent in the year 2000.
With forced displacements continuing to increase, refugees and asylum seekers account for close to a quarter of global increases, which have risen by 13 million in number from 2010 to 2017.
For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in the back of trucks, often seeking to reach the United Kingdom from the European mainland.
People facing desperation are willing to risk their lives attempting to reach safer places.
A landmark UN migration study published on Monday shows that 93 per cent of Africans making the journey to European countries along irregular routes, would do it again, despite facing often life-threatening danger.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe, interviewed 1,970 migrants from 39 African countries in 13 European nations, all of whom declared that they had arrived in Europe through irregular means and not for asylum or protection-related reasons.
Interestingly, it found that getting a job was not the only motivation to move; that not all irregular migrants were ‘poor’ in Africa, nor had lower education levels.
Around 58 per cent were either employed or in school at the time of their departure, with the majority of those working, earning competitive wages.
But around half of those working said they were not earning enough.
Collective and effective global measures to tackle the root causes of displacements are essential. Fair migration laws will benefit all and that’s what the international community should strive for.