Like a big blanket that covers dead bodies, the sea hides the horror away from people’s sight. Dead migrants become numbers, which turn into statistics, thus losing all the power of a story about the death of a human being may have. Everything is anesthetized, becomes marginal in the news, which certainly affect us, after all, but often we do not understand: spread, public debt, BrExit. We are distracted by what is happening on Asian stock markets, they explain us what will happen on the European chessboard. But the news about tens of thousands of pieces on the edges of the chessboard are ready to join the game and are desperately determined.
Only in the first 5 months of 2016 over 3,400 migrants died or went missing while trying to cross borders around the world. And 80% of these people were on their way towards Europe. The estimate by the World Organization for Migration (IOM). This figure is 12% higher compared to the first five months of 2015 and the Mediterranean is the most lethal route for migrants – according to Frank Laczko, Director of IOM Analysis Center in Berlin – with its route connecting North Africa and Italy has become the most dangerous path in the world.
As for Italy, the number of migrants and refugees who arrive in Europe crossing the Mediterranean Sea has exceeded 210 thousand – 52 thousand of whom arrived to Italy – since the beginning of 2016. Moreover, according to the latest estimates released by IOM, a total of 210,643 immigrants and refugees have reached Europe by the sea from the beginning of 2016 to June 12: to Italy (51,956), Greece (157,298), Cyprus (28) and Spain (1,352). The highest number of deaths (2,438) was recorded on the central route between North Africa and Italy.
Yet, numbers are still cold; actually, they witness lives, people who have never reached their destination. We feel sorry, but it does not disturb us too much. Until we see something that shakes us, that takes away the veil of hypocrisy from our eyes and connects soul and brain. This is the case of ‘little Aylan’s picture: face down, barely touched by the water, his arms slumped, motionless in death. The little Syrian refugee who drowned in front of the beach of Bodrum, a Turkish tourist paradise, was still wearing a red shirt and dark shorts, his shoes were laced. And the photo of that composed and delicate small body went viral and was proposed over and over again on Twitter. It is the symbol of the migrants’ tragedy and the decision of the media to face this tragedy, this global outrage, then everything fell into oblivion again.
Now a new shock was caused by a video: groupers and amberjacks assault the bodies of migrants who were trapped in a sunk fishing boat, at 60 meters deep, 15 miles away from the Libyan coast. These impressive images were filmed by the divers of the Italian Navy, who ten months later managed to recover six of the dozens of migrants’ dead bodies, victims of a shipwreck.
There will be an emotional wave again, and it will be followed by silence in this case too. Which does not mean respect in this case, but chilling indifference.