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The Homeland Versus The Dreamland

Thousands of people from Africa and West Asia are being seen afloat on trawlers and rubber boats on the Italian coast after crossing the sea. Around 17,000 people have arrived in the south-western European country in the first quarter of 2023. The figure is almost three times bigger compared to the corresponding period in 2022. The Italian Coast Guard, Navy and members of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the third week of March 2023. The majority of these migrants are from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Senegal and Syria. Men, women and children are leaving their countries in fishing trawlers and rubber boats, ignoring the risk factors during their perilous voyage. While some of migrant women are pregnant, a number of children have experienced the sea for the first time in life.

As human trafficking has become a profitable business, migrants have to give almost all their hard-earned savings (around USD 750-3,500 per person) to the traffickers before leaving their countries.

Unfortunately, many of these voyages never reach the shore, as many vessels drown even before reaching the shores of the Mediterranean Sea or their respective destination. Hence, rescue operations at the international level, especially the humanitarian and political sensitivities of the destination country, have immense importance. More than 70 people perished when a ship, carrying migrants, capsized in the Calabrian sea at the end of February 2023. As Italy reportedly showed no interests in the rescue operation, an investigation is going on to establish the truth.

According to political analysts, the conservative, right-wing Government of Italy, led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is reluctant to deal with the fresh wave of migrants. It certainly has an impact on the rescue operation. Meloni’s Cabinet recently announced tougher punishment for human traffickers, apart from taking initiatives to expand the scope of legal immigration.

Meanwhile, private welfare organisations, including Doctors Without Borders, have imposed various rules and regulations on migrants. After rescuing people, these organisations are asking migrants to move to further north. Vessel owners, too, are under tremendous pressure because of skyrocketing fuel prices, thanks to the Russia-Ukraine War. The global community is worried about increasing fuel prices, but not about the condition of migrants in Italy and other European countries.

This is a sad cycle of crisis, as people leave their homelands which fail to provide their citizens with minimum security. Also, there are various discriminations on the grounds of language, religion, economy, lifestyle, etc. in those countries where the migrants arrive. As Europe still gives importance to human dignity, the lives of foreign migrants are being saved despite all these. However, who is responsible for the precious lives that have been lost… the homeland or the dreamland?

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