Dark reality for migrants

IN yet another story that highlights the perils of trafficking and the plight of economic migrants leaving Pakistan, nearly 400 Pakistanis were rescued in a raid in Libya this week. It was reported that these migrants were locked in a smugglers’ warehouse. Libyan authorities released them in an early morning raid in the port city of Tobruk. Most of them have been moved to a deportation centre in Benghazi, from where they will be sent back to Pakistan.

The relief organisation that spoke to this paper described the migrants’ heartbreaking condition. There are reports that the migrants, 11 of whom are children, have scabies and other ailments, and were living in dismal, cramped conditions as they were kept in a warehouse. Unfortunately, this is a reality many migrants are aware of before they embark on the dangerous journey from Pakistan to Mediterranean waters via Libya. Since the recent drowning of hundreds of Pakistani migrants off the Greek coast, there has been pressure on Islamabad to dismantle these trafficking networks. It is regrettable that the action taken so far has been limited to token raids and arrests. Pakistan’s politicians must commit to cracking down on trafficking networks and ensure that the requisite measures and legislation are in place to enable their dismantling. A proposed 14-point National Action Plan Against Migrant Smuggling has been drafted by experts but has yet to be put into action. Clearly, this issue is low on the list of our leaders’ priorities, as it is a matter that largely concerns the poor. This attitude has to change. In Europe, lawmakers are viewing the issue of illegal migration seriously and have also criticised Pakistan’s lack of cooperation to take back deported migrants. The fact that migrants take these risks of their own volition speaks volumes for their lack of confidence in our political leaders who can’t be bothered to strive for a better future for their constituents.

Source: Dawn, August 3rd, 2023