Senseless. This is the only word that accurately describes all the lives lost at the recent tragedy at Lampedusa. Over 300 people have lost their lives in this tragedy, majority of those women and children. In this day and age when Africa is showing positive change and promise for the future its horrific to come to the realization that people who could have potentially made a difference for their countries are running away to foreign lands instead of trying to do all they can to build their countries. It comes down to three key things:
1) Human Life is not replaceable.
Probably the saddest FACT about what happened was that it could have all been prevented. The captain of the vessel that sank was arrested and deported last year in Italy on account that he was part of an illegal immigration ring. If he was a known people smuggler how could be allowed to continue his day job? People like him are the driving force behind incidents similar to this. They charge African families thousands of dollars – their life savings really – in return they put them on overcrowded fishing boats and promise them entry into Europe using the back door. These people need to face harsher penalties and come to the realization that human life is not replaceable, it is innate in value.
2) It is not one person’s problem.
The aftermath of the tragedy has left those Mediterranean coastline countries closest to the African shoreline squabbling about who is responsible for these deaths. There have been calls for a more collective approach initiated by the European Union as Lampedusa is not only an “Italian frontier but a European one.” Although I agree, I think the net needs to be cast wider because this is a global problem. We are all human beings and we should all take responsibility for each other. African countries should be included in the solution-finding process. I believe if they had been included earlier, this could have all been prevented.
3) Running away won’t change anything
Every year thousands make the trip from Africa to Europe on overcrowded vessels which results in death for many of the passengers. Last year alone 6500 people died at sea trying to complete the journey. Just four days before the Lampedusa tragedy 13 people lost their lives trying to reach the coastline of Sicily. We must cut the snake at its head! Get to the root of the problem. African countries need to take the initiative and crack down on these illegal immigration rings. In addition to empowering their populations to believe that where you are doesn’t change your circumstances, it’s who you are and what you know that will make the difference.
Photo Credit: Ettore Ferrari/EPA