OPN 191024 TRUCK-1571913346353
An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock, South England Image Credit: AP

On Wednesday, at a quiet industrial estate unit in southeast London, the bodies of 38 men and a teen were found in the back of a trailer. While police are still trying to piece together exactly how and where the chiller trailer entered the United Kingdom, the young Northern Irish driver who attached his rig to the trailer is in custody and is facing the prospect of 39 murder charges right now. Police now say all 39 victims were ethnic Chinese and likely froze to death.

In another incident the same day, nine refugees were found in the back of a truck on a motorway in Kent. Clearly, there are human traffickers who are making a lot of money by moving the detritus of human misery illegally across Europe.

More on the tragedy

Up and down the French coast, desperate and desolate groups of men, women and children lie in wait for the quiet word from these modern-day pirates of when to board flimsy boats to cross the English Channel. It’s a scenario that’s played out in far greater terms along the coasts of Libya for passage across the Mediterranean Sea.

The tragedy is that as long as Europe fails to tackle the issue of refugees and international migration, there will be many more lost to the waters of the Mediterranean, the icy trailers of the traffickers. But this is not an issue that is confined to Europe alone

- Gulf News

This human trafficking, this trade of misery, is a crisis that has gone on in too many places for too long. It has happened in plain sight for the past five years in particular, but has always existed.

In the Mediterranean, volunteer organisations are overwhelmed by the numbers that attempt those treacherous waters — and no one knows just how many have perished in their last desperate attempt to reach Europe and begin a better life.

In Turkey, three million refugees await resettlement, their collective lives used as collateral that Ankara uses as a political pawn to pressure the European Union.

In Europe itself, the eastern nations in particular have taken a hard line against refugees, fearing that their faith will somehow clash with their ideals of Christianity, making them treat those refugees with contempt and in abysmal conditions.

The tragedy is that as long as Europe fails to tackle the issue of refugees and international migration, there will be many more lost to the waters of the Mediterranean, the icy trailers of the traffickers. But this is not an issue that is confined to Europe alone.

Wherever there is hope of finding freedom, an escape from misery and deprivation, the burning desire for a better life means that there will always be an endless tide of such migrants. And that is the collective failing of humankind.