The risks and dangers of illegal migration from Pakistan to Europe

Illegal migration from Pakistan to Europe via the dangerous Libya route has become increasingly popular, with thousands of Pakistanis seeking work and a better life abroad. However, this route is fraught with peril, as highlighted by the recent sinking of an overcrowded vessel off Greece, resulting in a significant loss of life. The demand for illegal migration stems from the dire economic situation in Pakistan, with high unemployment rates, soaring inflation, and a devalued currency. The lure of better salaries and opportunities in Europe is prompting many Pakistanis to take the risk of embarking on this treacherous journey.

The Pakistan authorities estimate that in the first six months of 2023, nearly 13,000 individuals left the country for Libya or Egypt, compared to around 7,000 in the entire year of 2022. Of those who left, approximately 10,000 have not returned, leaving their families anxious and uncertain of their fate. The migrants fly to Dubai or Egypt on valid visas before boarding large boats from eastern Libya to Europe. This new route has gained popularity due to cracking down on illegal arrivals in countries like Turkey. The increase in demand for this route highlights the desperation of many Pakistanis to escape the economic hardships in their own country.

The journey comes with a high cost, both financially and in terms of human lives. Migrants are willing to pay exorbitant amounts, ranging from 2.5-3 million rupees, to secure a spot on these dangerous boats. Smugglers, who have been operating for years, facilitate the migration process but deny responsibility for the shipwrecks and tragic outcomes. The enforcement of illegal migration from Pakistan is a challenging task for authorities as families often prefer out-of-court settlements, hindering investigations into human smuggling networks.

The perilous conditions faced by those who make it to Libya are equally troubling. Families receive desperate pleas for money from their loved ones trapped in crowded, unsanitary rooms with minimal food and inhumane treatment. However, the families’ desires regarding their relatives’ fate are conflicted, with some initially wishing for a safe passage to Europe but later wanting them to return home.

The Pakistani government is aware of the situation and working to address it, but despite crackdowns and awareness campaigns, the allure of a better life overseas continues to entice many individuals to undertake the dangerous journey. Prohibiting illegal migration and ensuring the safety and well-being of Pakistani citizens remains a significant challenge for law enforcement.

The heartbreaking story of Fareed Hussain, who sent his teenage sons on the journey, serves as a grim reminder of the risks involved. The boys were presumed to have drowned in Greece’s waters, leaving their family devastated and with no bodies to bury. Fareed regrets his decision, urging others not to succumb to the promises of a brighter future abroad.

Overall, the increasing number of Pakistanis opting for the Libya route to Europe highlights the urgent need for the Pakistani government to address economic disparities, create job opportunities, and ensure social stability. Efforts should focus on improving living conditions, reducing unemployment, and promoting legal migration to protect the well-being and lives of Pakistani citizens.