Numerous Pakistani migrants drowned after two boats sank in the Mediterranean in different parts of Libya on Tuesday. Of the nearly 80 passengers from Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt, at least 57 were confirmed dead by Libyan aid workers.
The two unrelated boats were headed from Libya to Europe on Tuesday night when they sank – one near Tripoli and the other one near Sabratha.
The Libya Observer reports that the Libyan Red Crescent has been recovering bodies of migrants over the past one week. Libyan aid workers said that they expect more bodies to wash ashore in the coming days.
1/2 #Libya 22.04.23 – Libyan Red Crescent despite very difficult weather conditions recovered 17 unidentified bodies of #migrants washed ashore in Sabratha. [cont] #migrantcrisis #DontTakeToTheSea #seenotrettung #Frontex pic.twitter.com/H5Li2kxdII
— Migrant Rescue Watch (@rgowans) April 23, 2023
This is the third known tragedy to have struck Pakistani migrants in the past few months. In early March, the Pakistani Foreign Office had confirmed that seven Pakistani nationals had died in a boat wreck near the Libyan port city of Benghazi. Pakistani foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch had blamed unscrupulous persons for taking advantage of people who wanted to travel abroad for livelihood.
In a crackdown, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had arrested three people who had reportedly sent Pakistanis illegally to unknown destinations via Libya.
In a similar incident earlier in a different setting, at least 40 Pakistanis were found dead when their overloaded boat with migrants sank off the coast of south Italy. It came to be known later that an international hockey player, 27-year old Shahida Raza also died in this tragedy. Belonging to the Shia Hazara community, Raza was trying to flee the South Asian nation known for its violent persecution of Shias. The Hazara community has been targeted in ethnic violence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As violence continues to persist in Afghanistan and mounts in neighbouring Pakistan, people are fleeing both nations for Europe and even as far as the US. The rising economic and humanitarian crisis in both nations has only added to the desperation of the masses. Pakistan also suffers from acute political instability.
In February this year, 18 Afghans were found dead in a transport truck outside Bulgarian capital Sofia. The local police managed to rescue another 34 people who were found hidden under wooden planks in the truck. Initial investigations showed that the Afghans had crossed over from their country into Turkey via Iran and were making their way to Europe.
Desperate people from Africa and conflict-torn countries in the wider Gulf region have been migrating in tens of thousands. A large number of migrants have been launching themselves into dangerous seas from Tunisia and Libya in a bid to reach Italy. Others have been moving to Europe via Iran, Turkey and Greece.
International organisations and European NGOs have been rescuing hundreds of migrants from the sea and the shores.
Also read: Mexico and Brazil become the new frontier for desperate Afghan refugees