Column: The Vexed Problem Of Human Trafficking

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: The tragic death of 39 Chinese migrants in a refrigerated lorry that was discovered in Essex earlier this week has brought the issue of human trafficking back into focus. The illegal migrants were dreaming of starting a new life in Britain, the never never land of their imagination with its streets paved with gold.

The dead included eight women and a teenager who had traversed 5,000 miles fom the Far East to the UK under horrendous conditions. The victims are thought to have frozen or suffocated while trapped inside the sealed metal container, which had arrived on a cargo ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Ruthless human traficcking gangs are involved in the trade. They charge thousands of pounds to smuggle people into Britain and force them into black-market labour. Illegal migrants arrive in lorried and dinghies but they make news only when they are dead.

They undertake such journeys despite being aware of the dangers involved. Unable to seek a legal passage to the UK many of them choose such options. Traffickers prey on such people in return for small fortunes. In the opinion of some observers it is the failure of the UK to offer a safe alternative to people desperate to enter the country that helps these smugglers to operate.

There are organisations trying to help such unfortunate people who fall into the hands of smugglers. But their job is not easy. Among other things they have to contend with the fact that traffickers are all the time trying to take advantage of the desperation of people and offering them what sounds like a quick route to a better life. The best way to deal with the smugglers is for the government to make the process of legal entry into the country less protracted and cumbersome.

Recently Refugee Rights Europe, an organisation working to bring about much-needed change to secure the human rights of refugees and displaced people in Europe, came out with a report detailing the horrendous circumstances facing around 300 unaccompanied children in northern France including children aged seven, nine and 12. These are people who take risks to enter Britain in the hope of leading a secure life.

Illegal migrants come into the UK from everywhere including India. More often than not they arrive in small dinghies that reach the English shores in the dead of the night. If there are groups trying to help migrants in distress there are an equal number opposing their entry. One of the groups opposing such migration has its volunteers patrolling the English coast looking for boats that might be carrying human cargo.

The sighting of any such boat is promptly reported to the police and the authorities are pressurized to deport the illegal migrants as soon as possible irrespective of their physical and mental state. The problem over the years seems to have acquired dangerous proportions and accidents such as the one that took place recently could end up further complicating the situation. The issue demands immediate solution.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)