Perilous journeys

Editorial June 21, 2024


According to the International Organisation for Migration, Pakistan has one of the highest rates of emigration. The worsening economic situation, lack of security for life and property and several other reasons have for decades forced thousands of Pakistanis to migrate annually to seek a better future for themselves and their families. Those lucky to be born with some privilege manage to do it safely, by either studying abroad and/or finding employment in foreign countries. But those economically disadvantaged only have illegal and perilous migration means at their disposal. These are journeys they undertake knowing their chances of survival are slim. But what does an empty stomach not make a man do, including putting his life at stake?

June 14 marked a year to the Greece tragedy — the deadliest shipwreck in the Mediterranean that claimed 600 lives. Only 12 out of the approximately 350 Pakistanis onboard the ship were rescued. The rest have been declared missing as only 82 bodies could be pulled out. Family members of the victims gathered for a press conference at Lalamusa in Punjab on the day, demanding information about their missing loved ones as well as compensation from the government of Greece. Survivors have alleged that coastguards took hours to rescue the drowning emigrants despite warnings. Recently, on June 17, another 11 people were reported dead after two shipwrecks off the coast of Italy. Some 51 were rescued, including Pakistanis. However, rescue efforts have been made increasingly difficult by most Western countries for whom emigrants are a burden on the economy instead of human beings deserving of a dignified and healthy life. Punishing ordinary citizens for their home country’s poor economy is a dehumanising approach. The least developed countries owe to the less economically developed ones is creating accessible legal pathways for immigrants, investing in their integration efforts, and spreading public awareness about their conditions.



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