Islamabad [Pakistan], June 23 (ANI): A horrific migrant boat sinking off the coast of Greece on July 14 has sparked renewed debate in Pakistan about the government’s ability to take action against people smugglers as the number of people fleeing the country rises rapidly. debate. Nikkei Asia reports.
The crowded fishing trawler with nearly 750 migrants on board sank in the Mediterranean Sea last week after sailing from Libya. Of these, only 104 have been found so far.
Dozens of Pakistanis were reportedly rescued, but there may have been 400 more on board, along with other migrants en route to Italy from Syria and Egypt.
Following the horrific tragedy, Pakistani Prime Minister Sheikh Baz Sharif declared a day of national mourning and vowed to punish human traffickers.
Crisis-hit Pakistan has a population of 240 million and an average annual salary of $1,500. In addition, according to “Nikkei Asia”, India’s inflation rate has reached 33%, the highest level in decades, the rupee is rapidly depreciating, and a sovereign default is imminent.
More than 800,000 Pakistanis will officially leave the country in search of work in 2022, the largest exodus in the past five years. According to Nikkei Asia, some desperate residents have turned to illegal smugglers to divert them to Australia, Europe and other top destinations, despite the risks.
Furthermore, since 2014, more than 20,000 people have died or disappeared while trying to cross the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration.
“The lack of economic opportunity in the country is forcing more and more people to take risks on these routes without realizing the risks,” Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission said this week.
“In fact, death is avoidable, and [the accident] Victims involved in human trafficking should serve as a stark reminder to the country of its failure to stop the serious and persistent human rights abuses,” it added.
The human rights watchdog warned of a “serious lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies, allowing traffickers to go unpunished”.
In one year, some 40,000 Pakistanis left the country through unofficial channels.
About 40,000 Pakistanis leave the country each year through unofficial channels, according to the Center for Mixed Migration, a European research group. According to Nikkei Asia, up to 90 percent of Pakistani immigrants arrive in Italy through smuggling and other illegal means.
Some 34,000 people were deported from Europe to Pakistan last year, but that hasn’t stopped smugglers, who are widely publicizing it on social media. Known in slang as “dunkers”, they can be found on Facebook, and they transport migrants overland from Pakistan to Turkey for between Rs 200,000 and Rs 400,000 per person.
The smuggling suspect is expected to face manslaughter charges in Greece, while Pakistan says it has arrested more than a dozen suspects since the sinking.
Following the tragedy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHRC) called on countries to stop human trafficking. But Pakistan’s smuggling problem is not just caused by economic difficulties and weak law enforcement.
Another key issue, according to a former immigration official, is the willingness of corrupt officials to turn a blind eye in exchange for bribes. He said his efforts to crack down on smuggling rings led to his quick reassignment, according to Nikkei Asia.
Jamal, an immigration lawyer, said the government should step up monitoring of travel advisories and the way passports are issued in areas hardest hit by the migrant exodus. He also added that Islamabad must seek technical assistance.
“The developed countries will provide Pakistan with all possible help to prevent illegal immigration as it is in their national interest,” he added. (Ani)
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