COVID 19 provokes the introduction: “Had it not been for the pandemic, this would be the time for ……”
That encompasses both good and bad.
So while many rue the loss of a holiday lazing on a Mediterranean beach, others regret not being able to take their lives in their hands crossing that sea to find a better, safer life in Europe.
Coronavirus has reduced but not stopped the flow of migrants which normally peaks during the northern summer months.
Indeed, it has made the crossing even more dangerous.
Coinciding with Thursday’s international day against people trafficking, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Denmark’s Mixed Migration Centre have released a report confirming that reaching the Mediterranean from Africa and traversing it to Europe remains the most dangerous migration route on the planet.
The latest available figures show that 72 people a month died trying to make the trip.
More than a quarter of those perished trying to cross the Sahara desert before even making the Mediterranean shore.
Thousands suffered rape, torture and other abuse at the hands people traffickers and lamentably the police.
Thousands have been detained under appalling conditions mainly in Libya where no fewer than 43 000 refugees are held.
Thousands are missing and unaccounted for under the waves.
To illustrate the hazards currently experienced, the International Organisation for Migration reports that
three Syrian refugees were shot dead by Libyan officials last Monday when they tried to escape from Al Khums after being dropped there by the Libyan coastguard.
At least 65 refugees from Eritrea, Morocco and Sudan have tested positive for COVID 19 in Malta where they were taken by sailors who plucked them from a 30-hour maritime nightmare.
Those now in quarantine represent two thirds of the people rescued.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Fillipo Grandi says the situation calls for concerted action by the states in the region with the support of the international community.
That might provide a band aid for the visible wounds.
The real solution lies in making life more tolerable in the home countries of the migrants, so that they don’t feel it is worth risking death to escape.