by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
A few weeks ago, before the month of June ended, I have been bombarded with news of a tragic event on my social media accounts: the loss of five lives due to a catastrophic implosion of a submersible bound to the Titanic wreck site.
It caught the world’s attention because the victims were not just ordinary men- they were some of the wealthiest men on earth. Four of the men paid a quarter of a million dollars to be in that vessel, only to lose their lives in an instant.
This tragedy had the media’s attention and the resources for rescue and retrieval from different government agencies. It was supposed to be a fun trip to the depths of the sea, but it ended in a catastrophe. It’s totally heartbreaking. My heart goes out to their families.
However, what breaks my heart even more was when I read one of the comments on a Facebook post about the implosion of the submersible. A commenter wrote, “We are all focused on this news, we have forgotten the boat that capsized in the Mediterranean carrying refugees to Europe.”
I began to search on Google about the boat that was carrying refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. When I saw and learned what happened, oh my heart sank big time.
Four days before the submersible lost communication with its mother ship, a big boat carrying approximately 750 people from the Middle East and Africa that set sail from Libya and bound for Italy capsized.
It was carrying men, women and children who wanted to leave their poverty-stricken, war-torn countries to look for a better life in Europe.
According to news articles, more than 300 of the passengers were from Pakistan. The others were from Syria, Egypt, and Palestine. One hundred four survivors were pulled out of the water, dozens are dead and hundreds are still missing.
Reading the accounts of the survivors and how the governments, especially the Greek Coast Guard, responded, I couldn’t help but be discouraged and angry at the same time.
As I’ve read different stories of some of those who have lost their lives, I found myself praying for comfort and strength for the families they have left behind.
These people were not traveling for leisure and tourism, they have left their families and countries behind, and crossed borders despite the risks, because they are seeking better opportunities to be able to provide for their loved ones.
They want to flee the conflicts and hardship in their countries, enduring a perilous journey to Europe where they think life is better, only to be struck by a tragedy.
Hundreds of dreams have been shattered. Hundreds of lives seeking help and refuge are now forever lost at sea, probably will be ignored and abandoned. Hundreds of families are grieving and broken.
They may be poor and ordinary, unlike those in the submersible who are famous and wealthy, but their lives are as precious. They are people that need our attention. Their stories need to be heard.
According to the United Nation’s International Organization of Migration (IOM), the journey from Libya or Tunisia to Europe through the Central Mediterranean is the world’s deadliest route.
This is not the first time a tragedy happened in this area, hundreds die almost every year trying to flee their nations. The worst shipwreck was in 2015 where only 28 people survived out of the 1,100 people on board.
The records of IOM show that there are more than 27,000 migrants missing in the whole Mediterranean region since 2014, more than 17,000 of the deaths and disappearances were recorded in the Central Mediterranean.
While my family lives peacefully and comfortably where we are, there are thousands, if not millions of people around the world, especially from the Middle East and Africa, who are trying to escape their nations in search of better lives in countries that seem to offer greener pastures.
But the journey of seeking better opportunities entails danger and death is on the horizon. This has opened my mind and my heart to such a heart-wrenching reality.
I hope there’s something I can do in my own little way about this situation. If only I could open my house to a refugee. I can only do so much but I believe that the most powerful thing I can do now, aside from finding ways to support these refugee migrants, is to pray for them- their families, and their nations, and that they may find refuge, rescue and help from the God who cares for them.
May we remember the families of those who have perished and were lost at sea- not just the five men in the submersible, but the hundreds of people in the capsized boat along the Mediterranean.
They all need our prayers. May they find peace and comfort during this very difficult time.
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan