The year 2022 did not offer better conditions for illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers in the world, as the number of victims is highly increasing in the Mediterranean Sea, from which migrants flee war, conflict, economic crisis and persecution from their countries.
Illegal migrants ran the risk of life and death in 2021 from North Africa, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, hoping to reach safety in the West, however, they were transferred on “death-boats” of smuggling gangs raising money from illegal immigration seekers.
The figures and the numbers of victims and missing persons as a result of the events of 2021 in the Mediterranean Sea reflect the reality, where dozens of floating bodies and thousands of other bodies lost remain.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recorded the death or loss of some 1,600 persons in the Mediterranean from the beginning of 2021 to 25 November, while attempting to reach Europe from the North African States or Turkey. In the first quarter of the year, at least 300 people drowned or were missing in the Mediterranean Sea, a high figure compared to the same period in 2020, when about 150 people drowned or were missing in the Mediterranean Sea.
Besieging of migrants by European Union states
Many boats are subject to drowning at sea due to many factors, including bad weather and overload, and many illegal immigrants are exploited by smugglers, tortured and ill-treated or detained for ransoms.
Twelve of the 27 States members of the European Union, including Austria, Greece, Poland and Hungary, requested the European Commission to fund the construction of barriers at their borders to prevent the entry of migrants.
Even so, migrants have not stopped risking their lives and enter Europe, despite the continent closing its ports and preventing any humanitarian ship from carrying out rescue operations. The Mediterranean Sea has become an open prison that, according to the warnings of international NGOs, bears witness to a major human tragedy.
The new tragedy of Migrant at Greece borders: partially clothed bodies of 19 frozen people
Last week, another tragedy of migrants was discovered, where partially clothed bodies of 19 people have been found inside Turkey, close to the border with Greece, after they apparently froze to death, a week after a rare snowstorm hit the two countries.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said those who died were part of a group of 22 migrants sent back by Greek Border Units and stripped of clothes and shoes. He described the behavior of the Greek border guards as thugging and stressed that the European Union was “weak” and inhumane. This accusation was denied by Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi. However, The Council of Europe, and migrants themselves have for years alleged that the Greek Coast Guard and border patrols send back migrants, sometimes throwing them back at sea.
The United Nations Human Rights Agency has published “credible reports” on such incidents, however, the Greek government has repeatedly denied them.
The international community should take urgent actions to put an end to the losses of lives, given the increasing numbers of displacement and migration across the sea and the European borders, due to the intensity of wars and conflicts in the Arab world, and in order to avoid repeating the tragedy of the drowning of migrant boats, and freezing people at the borders.
The European Union must resolve the tragedy of migrants at their borders, especially where a large number of women and children remain without adequate shelter, food, water and medical care.