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28 Pakistanis die in Rome boat tragedy as poverty triggers illegal migration

Migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia perish in yet another boat tragedy (Photo: Twitter)

Of the 59 migrants who lost their lives after their boat sank on Sunday near south Italy, 28 were Pakistanis. Another 12 Pakistani migrants on the boat are still missing.

The overloaded boat was ferrying nearly 200 people including children from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia – fleeing their tumultuous countries for the safety of Europe.

Speaking about the tragedy, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted on Monday: “The reports of the drowning of over two dozen Pakistanis in a boat tragedy in Italy are deeply concerning & worrisome. I have directed Foreign Office to ascertain facts as early as possible & take the nation into confidence”.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, tweeted: “We are closely following the reports about the possible presence of Pakistanis in the vessel that has capsized off the coast of Italy. The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome is in the process of ascertaining facts from the Italian authorities”.

Many bodies were retrieved after these washed over to the coastline. The boat is believed to have sailed from Turkey.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said that many migrants were fleeing “very difficult conditions”, appealing to the international community to eradicate causes of migration, such as war, persecution and poverty.

The latest boat tragedy has put the spotlight on Pakistan and why its citizens are fleeing the country?

The South Asian nation is in a flux with economic deprivation, militant violence and ethnic conflicts. Pakistan also witnessed the devastating floods in 2022 which only led to a worsening economic situation for many people.

Over the past few months the situation for the man on the street has aggravated with soaring inflation, shortage of fuel and a massive energy crisis. Added to all of this has been shortage of staple food including wheat flour which recently saw fights between people over subsidised food.

Constant political instability in the country has ensured bad governance and fueding politicians. This has ensured poor economic opportunities for the people to grow and prosper.

Poor Pakistanis fleeing sectarian conflict, economic woes, political instability and terrorism find it easy to cross over into Iran on foot with Europe being the eventual destination. Once in Iran, they take a bus close to the Iran-Turkey border and make attempts to again cross the border on foot. The final leg of the journey involves taking a boat from Turkey to sail into Greece or Italy.

Also Read: Turkey shuns Afghan migrants, begins to arrest refugees