They have left their native land behind, a land tormented by wars and misery. In front of them there is hope to build their lives anew in Europe, away from pain. In the middle there is the sea, the Mediterranean Sea, which all too often becomes a graveyard. Thousands of refugees embark on makeshift vessels every month to try to flee from terrorism and persecution. To do so, they accept any kind of condition, even filling the wallets of the traffickers who ask them to pay hundreds of dollars to be crammed like beasts on a boat or on a vessel. And to convince them to travel even when weather conditions are hostile, they propose true “low cost” packages.
As it happened in Turkey, where the traffickers of human beings have proposed a trip at a reduced price during the storm. “Go now, it will cost you only 850 dollars – they said to the migrants -. Children can travel for free. If you wait till tomorrow, it will cost you twice as much”. A deceitful way to secure rich gains, exploiting the despair of their “clients”, forced to choose between saving money and their own safety. A slap in the face of dignity.
Nancy, a Syrian nurse who has reached the Greek coasts after having sailed from Smyrna, has told the world about these horrifying offers. Together with her 11-year-old twin sons and her 70-year-old mother, she travelled along with 40 more people on a barge that risked toppling three times. “The boat did not sink simply because they were lucky and thanks to the skilfulness of the Iraqi man who guided it”. The latter was a migrant too and the traffickers chose him as the “captain”. Before entrusting him with the tiller, they had organized a crash course of maritime guide which had lasted about an hour. Fortunately, Nancy’s journey and that of her family ended in the best possible way: the Hellenic coastguard rescued their vessel and took them to a safe place.
Unfortunately this is not what happens every time. In fact, as it was explained by the spokesman of the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) in Greece, Ron Redmond, these discounts due to hostile weather have contributed to increase the number of drown victims in the Aegean Sea. Some migrants have been offered even 50% discounts to face a journey when the weather was windy and rainy. Besides, the traffickers are spreading a false sense of security by proposing to cross the Mediterranean Sea on wooden boats which they pass off as safer, but the truth is that they are little more than scraps. “With a load of 300-400 people on board, the boats sink – Redmond warned – the coastguard cannot reach all of them”.
Despite the high costs of the journey and the risk those people have to face, the exodus of migrants does not stop. Quite the contrary, according to data provided by UNHCR, over one million people have arrived in Europe by sea. These numbers show how the phenomenon of migration has been growing exponentially from 2014, when the number of arrivals by sea was little more than 216,000.
About 49% of the migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea are fleeing from Syria, 21% from Afghanistan, and 8% from Iraq. But many of them come from Eritrea, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia and Mali. 58% are men, 17% – women, and 25% – children. It is in the latter that the world began to take interest after the sad story of the little Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian child found dead on a Turkish beach. His image – face down in the sand, blue shorts and a red shirt – went viral on the media and on all the social networks. Apparently, his death has shaken the consciences of many people who have rushed to declare to the newspapers that such a tragedy should have never happened again. But the number of deaths keeps growing and the Mediterranean Sea has become the tomb of 3.735 people who have tried to reach hope.