As rescuers raced to find a handful of wealthy individuals and explorers who disappeared after launching a mission to survey the Titanic wreck, yet another disaster at sea feared to have left hundreds dead has been swept from the spotlight.
Last week’s sinking of a fishing boat that was crowded with migrants trying to reach Italy from Libya sparked arrests, protests, as well as questions about the relevant authorities’ failure to act or find a long-term solution to such an issue. But many human rights advocates are getting increasingly frustrated that the world seems to have moved on and that the resources and media attention directed to the Titan search and rescue efforts far outweigh those toward the deadly migrant shipwreck.
It’s a disgusting and horrifying contrast, Judith Sunderland, the associate director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, stated over a telephonic interview, reflecting on the disparities in resources and media attention on the two crises.
She said that the willingness to permit some individuals to die while all efforts are made to save a bunch of others … it’s a dark reflection on humanity.
Sunderland was not alone in raising such concerns over the apparent disparities in attention and resources dedicated to the search for the crew members of explorers on the missing submersible Titan, compared with the heart-breaking shipwreck that took place last week of a vessel that was carrying hundreds of asylum-seekers and migrants.
The front pages over the past few days have been taken over by the search for the missing sub, mentioned Josie Naughton, the co-founder and CEO of Choose Love, a U.K.-based nongovernmental organization that supports refugees all over the world.
She said that thousands more articles appeared to have been published regarding the sub than on the migrant boat, yet, it’s hundred times as many individuals who are feared to have died, and these individuals were compelled to flee their homes; they were seeking safety.
While we hope so much that the people on board get back to safety, it does make one question, not just about what’s the difference in terms of how the media is covering it but also in terms of how the governments and governmental infrastructure responds, Naughton explained. He further asks, why is it so starkly different?
The search mission for Titan was a race against time as the oxygen supply dwindled on the vessel, which went missing when it lost contact with its mother vessel, the Polar Prince, about an hour and 45 minutes after launching the dive on early Sunday. The US Coast Guard said that 96 hours’ worth of oxygen was available for the five crew members and would run out by early Thursday morning, even though the exact amount was unknown.
With the aid of agencies from other countries, the Coast Guard has been racing to locate the vessel and the passengers, who have been identified to be Stockton Rush, OceanGate Expeditions’ CEO, the company behind the mission, British billionaire and owner of Action Aviation — Hamish Harding; French dive specialist Paul Henry Nargeolet; and a prominent Pakistan-based businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood.
Sunderland said she was not surprised that the Titan search mission and its passengers had been attracting extensive media attention. The focus on very wealthy individuals potentially losing their lives on a vanity trip makes a good story, she said. The pressing issue on her mind is the resource-specific question.
Hundreds feared to be dead in a nightmarish Greece shipwreck.
Greek authorities until now have recovered at least the bodies of 81 individuals, and over 100 individuals have been rescued, including Syrians, Afghans, Pakistanis, Egyptians, and Palestinians. But the survivors and the United Nations have reported that hundreds were on the boat, and several continue to be missing and feared to be dead.
If a death toll in the hundreds came to be confirmed, it would be among the worst-ever shipwrecks to be recorded in the Mediterranean.
Greek authorities have also been criticized for not promptly acting to rescue the migrants, although a Coast Guard vessel carefully escorted the trawler for several hours.
International maritime law dictates that relevant authorities are now obligated to undertake immediate rescue missions — without or with an explicit plea for assistance.
Gianluca Rocco, the head of the Greek section of the International Organization for Migration, the U.N. migration agency, referred to it as one of the greatest tragedies in the Mediterranean.
Artist Oliver Jeffers shared his feelings with a cartoon on Tuesday to mark World Refugee Day. It reflected a news crew that was focusing its cameras on a vessel under the sea as it was turning away from those appearing to drown in waters nearby.
While most of us are glued to the news about the five most wealthy tourists losing their lives on a submersible on their way to seek the wreckage of a sunken vessel, today is World Refugee Day. Last week a boat carrying hundreds of refugees sank off the Greece Coast, Jeffers wrote on an Instagram post with the graphic.
He said several (including children) reportedly died on the sinking vessel while they were on their way to a safer existence. It is hard not to be cynical about the state of society. The story has gripped us amid a constantly increasing refugee crisis, with an ever-increasing number of individuals dying almost daily and not getting nearly as much attention.
He requested all his followers to donate to the International Rescue Committee as we keep our eyes out for news of a still hopeful and safe return of the missing submersible.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, expressed that she was saddened by the tragedy that took place off the Greek coast, and she promised to work toward strengthening cooperation between the EU and nearby countries to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Human rights groups have argued, however, that the focus on efforts to crack down on migrant smuggling indicates that migrants and refugees feel compelled to take longer and more perilous routes to reach safe nations.
The ideal way to prevent the deaths of asylum-seekers, migrants, and refugees seeking safety is to create legal and safe routes for asylum-seekers to reach safety so that they are not compelled to embark on such journeys, per Naughton.
While she did not know what the result of the search for the missing sub and its passengers would be, she said she knows that 500 people who are risking their lives in dire need of safety deserve the same amount of respect as those on the Titan.
References: The Indian Express, NBC News
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