Migrants See Better Life on Social Media
Human Rights at Sea CEO, David Hammond, spoke to BBC News on August 31 highlighting the role of social media in the migrant situation in the Mediterranean.
Migrants can be classed as those fleeing persecution and war and those looking for a better life – economic migrants. Social media has enabled people from countries in Africa to appreciate the opportunities in Europe, and the U.K. based charity has interviewed a number of migrants in Mali, for example, who say it is worth the risk of a dangerous sea journey to have a better life in Europe.
Sidiky Diarra, 38, from Bamako, the capital city of Mali, is one example of someone planning the journey that Human Rights at Sea interviewed. He is married with three children. Two of his sisters live with him as well. He has had no formal education. His mother is very sick, and his father dead. “It is a great sorrow for me not to have means to support my children to continue their education, if I had means I would have invested 50 percent of my money in their education, so as they would not suffer like am suffering today.”
Additionally, many of the migrants do not see the human traffickers that arrange their journey as criminals, even though the boats used are often overcrowded and unseaworthy.
Hammond says that the first basic human right that migrants at sea have is the right to life. “There is a state responsibility to look after these individuals and also duty to render assistance at sea under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
The interview comes as calmer seas and Libya's lawlessness have opened the way for smugglers to ship thousands of migrants across the Mediterranean this week.
In just four days, Italy's coastguard and European vessels pulled 13,000 migrants from packed wooden boats and rubber dinghies crossing from Libya's coast through the Strait of Sicily, one of the shortest routes from North Africa.
Images from rescue vessels showed migrants crammed into fragile boats, some in orange life jackets, others jumping into the water to swim as rescuers shouted for them to stop. Many were women and children, most of them Subsaharan Africans.