The recent call by Pakistan and several African nations for increased protections for migrants at the UN Human Rights Council comes at a crucial time. The tragic shipwreck off the Greek coast, claiming the lives of at least 82 people with many more feared dead, serves as a stark reminder of the perils faced by migrants on their journey towards a better life.
Pakistan, directly affected by the shipwreck with a significant number of its nationals on board, rightly emphasises the need to address the protection gaps that contribute to such devastating incidents. The human cost of maintaining the status quo is simply too high, and it is incumbent upon the international community to come together in the spirit of solidarity to prevent further loss of life. By creating safe and regulated avenues for migration, we can protect the rights of these helpless migrants and ensure their well-being while addressing the root causes that drive them to pursue such perilous journeys across the sea. Moreover, the proposal for a new international investigative body to examine human rights abuses against migrants deserves serious consideration. Such a body would play a vital role in uncovering and holding accountable those responsible for mistreatment and abuse against migrants. It would send a strong message that the international community is committed to upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their migration status.
As the UN Human Rights Council deliberates on these matters, it is crucial for member states to demonstrate their commitment. This involves enhancing search and rescue operations, providing safe disembarkation, and ensuring accountability for those involved in human rights abuses. It also requires addressing the root causes of migration such as poverty, conflict, and lack of opportunities. The time for action is now.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2023.