Thousands of migrants have been fleeing violence in the Middle East and Africa even after European borders were closed off to those trying to make an escape to more peaceful territory.
That’s caused a surge in migrants trying to cross the dangerous waters through alternative means that too often end in tragedy.
The ship was at sea for a few days with fair weather promising an easy trip for the roughly 700 people on board.
Unfortunately, the weather eventually shifted and the skies became dark and overcast, stirring up more violent waters.
The ship sent out an SOS but as a Portuguese ship approached, nearly everyone on board rushed to one side of the ship, Al Jazeera reported.
That major shift in weight caused the boat to capsize.
Roughly 18 ships are currently involved in the rescue mission but so far their efforts have heeded disappointing results.
A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration reported that 49 people had been recovered from the treacherous waters but the Italian Coast Guard claims only about 28 of those recovered were still alive.
At first glance it seems like just another tragic, unfortunate ship wreck that can only be blamed on bad weather, but the politics involved is leaving European government and human traffickers with blood on their hands as well.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said human traffickers are usually involved in organizing such dangerous trips and forcing hundreds of people into unsafe waters on unsafe vessels.
“Gangs of criminals are putting people on a boat, sometimes even at gunpoint,” Muscat told CNN. “They’re putting them on the road to death, really, and nothing else.”
Muscat even called the illegal transportation efforts a form of “genocide” due to the thousands of Africans that have been killed as a result of the poorly executed escapes from violence in their home countries.
But that very reason for their desire to leave their own country behind and the limited choices they have to seek more peaceful land is exactly why others would make charges of genocide against the very leaders who forced them into such a position.
“A mass grave is being created in the Mediterranean Sea and European policies are responsible,” said the president of the international nonpartisan medical organization Doctors Without Borders, Loris De Filippi, to CNN.
According to De Filippi, the number of lives lost at sea in search of peace is similar to the fatality rates one would expect to see from a “war zone.”
European officials have fallen under scrutiny for drastically scaling back their rescue efforts and attempting to block migrants from freely coming to Europe with dreams of living in a safer environment.
“Faced with thousands of desperate people fleeing wars and crises, Europe has closed borders, forcing people in search of protection to risk their lives and die at sea,” Filippi added. “This tragedy is only just beginning, but it can and should be stopped.”
He also revealed that Doctors Without Borders plans on launching its own rescue efforts in hopes to step up where European government has already failed thousands of innocent people.