The tragedies of human trafficking and people smuggling have recently been swept under the rug with the COVID-19 crisis engulfing the global the past year. While we see a light at the end of the tunnel for many wealthier countries with vaccination policies and economic resuscitation, many poor countries will struggle to recuperate from the economic damage caused by the pandemic. For many citizens of those countries, fleeing by any means necessary is the only viable option to escape poverty and hunger which has been heightened by the global economic crash.
Just last month, over 20 migrants died after smugglers threw them overboard during a voyage from Djibouti to Yemen, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Just this week, French authorities rescued 84 UK-bound migrants of the English Channel that were at the brink of death. The crisis continues with staggering numbers dying on a weekly basis globally as a direct result of people smuggling.
Tragedy strikes Bab-el-Mandeb
While many celebrated the beginning of the holy and blessed month of Ramadan, many families were forced to grieved their lost ones. Yesterday, 42 lives were lost of the coast of Djibouti after a boat carrying refugees capsized. Sixteen children were among the dead with 14 survivors according to the IOM. The IOM elaborated that the refugees were Yemenis fleeing the dire situation in the Arab state which cost more than 230,000 lives since 2014.
As more and more victims pile up, the question of who is accountable for such tragedies arises. Do we blame the political actors in those countries rife with corruption or war? Do we blame the shady unscrupulous people smugglers who have been profiting from the $150 billion industry? Both are to blame, both are irresponsible and both benefit from the dire situations that victims of human trafficking are trapped in.
Who is responsible?
We are morally responsible. As human beings, we have a duty of care to all other human beings. Every individual that has died in such tragedies is a member of a family: a brother, sister, dad, mother or grandparent. They are not just simply statistics on article that you are reading.
However, the criminal liability lies upon the shady criminal organisations which have been profiting from others hardship for decades. It is shocking that not a single criminal leader of human trafficking ring has ever been put on trial in the Hague or another international court for crimes against humanity. Many of these criminals are amongst our communities all over Africa and are sometimes perceived as helpers and protected rather than criminals. We must fight this social norm.
The only viable and successful way to limit human trafficking immediately is by attacking the very heart of the industry: criminal organisations.